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In Depth Security and Prosperity Partnership: SPP FAQs To hear some people talk, the Security and Prosperity Partnership meetings are nothing to get worked up about.
Thomas D'Aquino, of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, has said the issues discussed at the SPP are "quite important but frankly quite boring. They're not terribly exciting."
David Bohigian, the American assistant secretary of commerce for market access and compliance, told the magazine The Nation that the SPP is mostly concerned with bureaucratic minutiae and standards harmonization.
"For instance, in the U.S., we sell baby food in several different sizes; in Canada, it's just two different sizes," he told the magazine.
But if it's all boring bureaucracy and baby food jars, why are thousands of protestors expected to show up in Montebello, Que., a small town halfway between Ottawa and Montreal, for the third leaders' meeting under the SPP? - Who is opposed to the SPP?
Opposition to the SPP exists in all three countries and on either end of the political spectrum.
Progressive groups, particularly in Canada, say the SPP amounts to Canada's deep integration with the United States.
The Council of Canadians says the SPP is anti-democratic, makes Canadians less secure and ties Canada to the U.S. "war on terror." The Council is also concerned about the SPP discussions about bulk water exports from Canada to the U.S.
The NDP has said it has concerns about the SPP's "lack of transparency and democratic oversight." NDP trade critic Peter Julian has tabled a motion calling for public consultations and full Parliamentary oversight of the SPP.
- On the Canadian government's website about the SPP, some of the agreement's accomplishments are listed:
* Initiatives that make it easier to ship goods across the border.
* Strategies to limit the impact of disasters and allow for a more co-ordinated international response and a faster recovery.
* International co-operation on intelligence, law enforcement, transportation security and border management to help reduce criminal activity and terror risks.
* Reduction of transit times by 50 per cent at the Detroit-Windsor gateway, the largest border crossing point between Canada and the U.S.
Not listed is a planned "harmonization" of pesticide limits between Canada and the U.S., which would raise the acceptable level of pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables.
The SPP's 2006 prosperity report identified "differences in pesticide maximum residue limits" as "barriers to trade." (CBC)
Millions of families face compulsory water meters Water companies are to be given new powers to force meters on millions of families amid claims it is necessary to cope with future droughts.
The controversial plan, which will add more than £1 billion to water bills over the next decade, was given the green light by the government on Thursday.
Ministers claim that despite the floods of this summer, the country is likely to see more droughts in future years, which will create a need to conserve water.
They argue that imposing meters generally leads to a reduction in household use of some 10 per cent.
New powers to adopt compulsory water metering are to be given to those companies who can show they are in so-called "water stress" areas.
However, the government plans to direct every water company in the country to consider imposing meters on customers to solve water shortage problems. (UK Daily Mail)
keywords: Climate Change, Consumer Council For Water, Essex & Suffolk, Folkestone & Dover, Mid Kent Water, Phil Woolas, South East Water, Southern Water, Sutton & East Surrey, Thames Water, UK National Consumer Council, United Kingdom, Water
White House says spying broader than known: report The Bush administration's top intelligence official has acknowledged that a controversial domestic surveillance program was only one part of a much broader spying effort, The Washington Post reported in its Wednesday edition.
Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell wrote in a letter that other aspects of the National Security Agency's domestic spying program remain classified, the Post said.
"That is the only aspect of the NSA activities that can be discussed publicly because it is the only aspect of those various activities whose existence has been officially acknowledged," McConnell wrote, according to the Post.
Bush acknowledged the existence of a program that monitored domestic phone calls and e-mails without court oversight in December 2005. The administration has not confirmed other secret spying efforts reported by news outlets, such as one that searched millions of telephone records. (Reuters)
California City to Transform Red Light Cameras Into Spy Cameras Oakland, California to lobby legislature to allow 24-hour video surveillance with red light camera system. - Privacy advocates have long viewed red light cameras with the suspicion that the devices were the first step down a path of increased surveillance. Those fears may come true as the city of Oakland, California has revealed that it is working with the state legislature to secure a change in the law that will allow red light cameras to become full-scale surveillance cameras. In a memo from the Oakland Police Department dated June 26, Police Chief Wayne G. Tucker recommended that the city's lobbyist be ordered to advocate a new law in Sacramento.
"The legislation would also allow the use of those (red light camera) images for evidentiary purposes other than the enforcement of red light violations, such as reckless driving, assaults, public nuisance activity, drug dealing, etc."
The request came in conjunction with a plan to allow camera vendor Redflex to operate 20 video cameras at intersections 24-hours a day. The city council unanimously approved this ticketing contract with the Australian company on July 17 which is expected to generate several million in new revenue. (theNewspaper.com)
Fingerprints to speed up lunch lines Using fingerprints, voice tones and eye-movement patterns has long been the stuff of spy movies, but the use of biometrics is now coming to the Lancaster School District.
The district plans this fall to use a fingerprint scanner at El Dorado School to help speed up the lunch line. Officials say it backs up when youths enter their ID numbers on a keypad to buy lunch.
"With kindergartners and first-graders, even students who go away for summer or for break, there are issues of remembering their number," said Connie Conrad, director of child nutrition. "It's a lot easier not to have a crying child, trying to get their name from them."
While school administrators rave about being able to expedite the lunch line and make operations more efficient, the system worries officials at the American Civil Liberties Union. (Lancaster Daily News)
Are ID chips too invasive? An FDA-approved chip implant raises Big Brother concerns. It appears that the effort to implant microchips into humans is not only alive and well but moving ever closer to getting under everyone's skin.
Delray Beach firm VeriChip, the nation's only FDA-approved company allowed to produce microchips for injection into people, got a boost recently from the American Medical Association.
The AMA said such devices "may help to identify patients, thereby improving the safety and efficiency of patient care." But the council warned that the devices' safety and security are unclear.
That was enough to create a stir in the technology and medical worlds as well as among privacy and religious folks. And enough to put a smile on VeriChip's face.
Scott Silverman, chief executive officer of VeriChip, says the primary aim is to help high-risk medical patients such as those with diabetes, Alzheimer's, cancer and heart conditions. (St Petersburg Times)
France to "triple" CCTV surveillance across the country French interior minister Michele Alliot-Marie announced Thursday the government is planning to " triple" the existing CCTV surveillance capacities across the country, with a view to curbing the risks of terrorism and acts of violence.
After chairing a meeting over the issue, the minister told the press she intended to develop CCTV surveillance "as a priority within the framework of an upcoming law on interior security orientation and programming (LOPSI)" which is expected to be submitted to the council of ministers in autumn.
In order to "cover as much territory as possible," she said, there is a need for "enhanced networking with all those" who are already using this technology, notably citing "local authorities, Paris transport authorities (RATP), French national railway company (SNCF), and large shopping complexes." (Xinhua)
Canadians in the Dark About SPP Union with the USA and Mexico The purpose of the Canada-USA-Mexico meeting in August, at Montebello, Quebec, is to ratify the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America
In less than a month’s time, on August 20, the most powerful president in the world will be arriving in Montebello, Quebec, for a two-day conference. President George W. Bush will be meeting with Stephen Harper and their Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderon. So far, the silence from the Canadian and American media has been deafening.
Talk to 90 percent of people on the street and they won’t know about this upcoming conference, and if by a slim chance they do, they won’t know the purpose of the meeting or why the leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico are meeting in the dog days of summer under what amounts to a veil of secrecy. (Mexidata.info)
Dangers Of MMR Jab 'Covered Up' According to a secret dossier, five cases were reported of potentially deadly brain inflammation following the use of MMR in Canada before it became part of standard childhood vaccinations in Britain (UK Daily Express)
Stop, Stop! A North American Union! As Some Stoke Fears of 'Dangerous' Partnership, Reality Takes a Detour Those who celebrated immigration reform's defeat last month as "a glorious victory for the American people" have a new issue to exploit. Their target: the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, or SPP, launched in March 2005 by the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Haven't heard of it? Well, those merchants of fear and exaggeration wish you had. According to them, the SPP will lead to a host of undesirable consequences, from a 10- to 12-lane highway splitting America's heartland from Mexico to Canada, to the elimination of America's borders and an "end (of) the United States as we know it," according to CNN's Lou Dobbs. One Web site, StopSPP.com, depicts the ramifications with a graphic of North America in flames.
Dobbs and others believe that the SPP is a "blueprint for the North American Union" and that next month's summit in Montebello, Canada, between President Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon will further consolidate the agreement and lead to the dissolution of U.S. sovereignty.
As it turns out, the agenda for that meeting isn't so apocalyptic. The three North American leaders are expected to announce an integrated strategy to combat pandemics, with avian flu one of the central motivations. Also finalized should be what organizers call a "trilateral regulatory cooperation framework meant to enhance competitiveness, while maintaining high standards of health and safety."
As far as an attempt to dissolve the U.S. and establish a North American Union, don't look for it in the summit's plans. There is no mention of erasing borders and establishing a separate legal system, adopting a single currency or creating a secret police. Unless, of course, the team of disease-fighting scientists somehow takes a wrong turn in Kansas City and transforms into a revolutionary army for the North American Union. In sum, the SPP doesn't pose much of a threat. (Washington Post)
The Delusional Miss Palfrey: D.C. Madam once promised judge she'd never re-enter pimping business After pleading guilty to pimping out women, Deborah Palfrey, the so-called D.C. Madam, once promised a California judge that she would never re-enter the escort business, and claimed that she did not deserve a prison sentence because she was a caring mother hen to her hookers, lived by the 'Golden Rule,' and had already 'suffered enough.' Following an early-90s felony conviction, the veteran pimp, now 51, filed a lengthy sentencing memorandum in San Diego Superior Court (a copy of the document can be found below). The memo provides an instructive glimpse into Palfrey's personal life and professional m.o.. It also leaves the reader with the impression that she is rather delusional and has a remarkably high opinion of herself. As she sought a sentence of probation, Palfrey explained that greed did not drive her to open an escort service. (The Smoking Gun)
RCMP, U.S. Army block public forum on the Security and Prosperity Partnership The Council of Canadians has been told it will not be allowed to rent a municipal community centre for a public forum it had planned to coincide with the next Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) summit in Montebello, Quebec on August 20 and 21.
The Municipality of Papineauville, which is about six kilometres from Montebello, has informed the Council of Canadians that the RCMP, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) and the U.S. Army will not allow the municipality to rent the Centre Communautaire de Papineauville for a public forum on Sunday August 19, on the eve of the so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership Leaders Summit.
“It is deplorable that we are being prevented from bringing together a panel of writers, academics and parliamentarians to share their concerns about the Security and Prosperity Partnership with Canadians,” said Brent Patterson, director of organizing with the Council of Canadians. “Meanwhile, six kilometres away, corporate leaders from the United States, Mexico and Canada will have unimpeded access to our political leaders.” (Council of Canadians)
Road with 100 cameras is plagued by crime A crime-ridden high street in north London has been branded the most spied-upon road in Britain, after it emerged that it is watched over by more than 100 closed circuit television cameras.
In one 650-yard section of Holloway Road, that runs from Archway to Highbury Corner, there are 29 cameras mounted on shops and lampposts, a church and a courtroom.
There are 102 CCTV cameras monitoring crime on the two-mile road, as well as a further seven checking for speeding cars and vehicles straying into bus lanes.
Civil liberties groups are alarmed by the number of opportunities for the state to watch people in Holloway Road, particularly as they claim surveillance cameras do not always help to reduce crime.
Mark Dziecielewski, of Watching Them Watching Us, said: "Politicians like cameras because they are seen to be doing something but, just like you see birds perched on scarecrows, the hoodies and dealers come back once the novelty has worn off. (London Telegraph)
Who is telling the truth about MMR jabs and autism? A first word book for babies lies open on a table in Jackie and John Fletcher's living room. Each page is devoted to one single-syllable word. Robert, their 15-year-old son, sits quietly, gazing at the simple, colourful pictures. He cannot read or say the words, but studies the images intently, just as he did when he was 13 months old, before his development was halted.
A month after his first birthday, Robert had a devastating epileptic fit. Dismissed initially as a febrile convulsion common in young children, it turned out to be the first of thousands of fits, damaging Robert's brain. His ill health has dominated his parents' lives. (UK Daily Mail)
OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR; The Center Shouldn't Hold IT'S just a red stake stuck in an anonymous spread of pasture 20 miles north of Belle Fourche, S.D., a rodeo town of about 5,000 inhabitants. But it is also the geographical center of the United States of America, as defined by the National Geodetic Survey in 1959. Or at least it is for now.
To find it, says Teresa Schanzenbach, executive director of the town's chamber of commerce, ''you have go into a ditch, cross a barbed-wire fence and maneuver amongst the cactus and cow pies.'' So, plans are that in August, the center of the nation is to be moved 20 miles south, and an eye-catching granite monument will be unveiled in Belle Fourche itself so that visitors can see it more easily.
This may seem like a high-handed way to treat both geography and the United States itself. Certainly the implications reach well beyond Belle Fourche. Is the balance of the nation going to be affected? Will there be a seismic tilt towards Canada? And can we be sure that the center won't shift again? History certainly suggests that it will -- and within the foreseeable future.
The event that made Belle Fourche the focal point of the nation's land mass was the admission of Hawaii and Alaska in 1959. Never have the frontiers of the United States remained fixed for so long. - Unlike the European Union, where six large nations jostle for power with 21 others of varying size, any North American model would inevitably be dominated by the partner whose population and economy are respectively almost three and six times bigger than those of the other two put together. It is significant that even at this early stage, all Security and Prosperity Partnership agreements have involved the United States, although often excluding one of the other two partners, and that American regulations are the norm for most of the partnership's 24 existing bilateral and trilateral agreements covering trade and security.
In other words, folks like Mr. Dobbs and Representative Goode are facing in the wrong direction. The partnership is increasing rather than diminishing the scope of United States sovereignty. History is resuming its normal course. It may be slower than invasion or purchase, but the regulations and agencies needed to enforce them will pull Canada and Mexico within the reach of United States jurisdiction as effectively as any means that Seward envisioned. Meanwhile, the citizens of Belle Fourche would be well advised to make the new geographical center of the United States transportable. It may eventually need to travel to somewhere near Omaha. (New York Times)
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