Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Another reason to upgrade bitumen in Alberta

Len Skowronski

Recently, three pipeline failures in Alberta have been reported.  Two have involved spills of conventional crude oil.  The third and most recent was a spill of diluted bitumen at Elk Point from an Enbridge pipeline.  Although no oil spills are good, this one is particularly bad because of the corrosive and lasting effects the diluent and bitumen will have on the environment.  Little has been reported by the local media on the special effects of this mixture although CBC radio did cover it on its “The Current” program.

We may learn about the effects of a diluted bitumen spill from rural Michigan where a ruptured Enbridge pipeline spilled 843,000 gallons of diluted bitumen into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River in June, 2010.

Unlike conventional crude oil, diluted bitumen is a mixture of unrefined bitumen that is often heavier than water and a diluent that usually consists of volatile solvents like naphtha or natural gas condensate that allow the thick bitumen to be pumped through the pipeline.

In the Michigan spill area, volatile portions of the diluent containing toxic fumes of benzene and toluene evaporated into the atmosphere causing local inhabitants to suffer nausea, dizziness, headaches, coughing and fatigue.

When the lighter chemicals evaporated, the bitumen portion sank to the bottom and became mixed with river sediments. Conventional clean-up equipment such as skimmers and oil booms proved useless in recovering the large amounts of submerged oil that covers 200 acres of river bottom.

As stewards of our oil sands, we Albertans must reduce the possibility of this kind of spill by minimizing the amount of bitumen piped out of Alberta.  This can be done by upgrading bitumen in Alberta and only exporting synthetic crude oil.  Not only would this benefit the environment but it would also add billions of dollars to Alberta’s economy because synthetic crude oil sells for a large premium over bitumen.

Len Skowronski
Leader, Alberta Social Credit Party
Calgary, Alberta

Who's up there?

Royal Family - what are they looking at?

Find out by going to Alberta West Photos here

21st. Century Wright brothers


Wright Brothers First Flight, 1903 - A Day That Shook The World

Clearwater County community halls - what is their future?

Arbutus Hall

Photo and story by Helge Nome

The Clearwater County Council sees itself as a funder of last resort for maintenance and upgrades of the 22 odd community halls in the county. That was made plain at the regular council meeting on June 26 when county staff asked for an update of the county's current policy on funding requests from community groups.

A request from a group needing funds to carry out repairs resulting from water damage underneath the Arbutus Hall is currently on hold, pending the receipt of a longer term plan for the facility. Other hall groups have seen their requests for funds be only partially met by the county council.

The challenge of maintaining community halls stem from the shifting demographics and nature of contemporary society, in comparison to the situation when most of the halls were built, around closely knit community groups with limited means of travel to other areas for recreation. Some time ago the community hall at Stauffer in the county was burnt to the ground by the Caroline Fire Department, as it was falling into disuse and disrepair. That may be the future of other halls, also.

On the other hand, a new Crammond Community Hall was built a few years ago by members of a local community group, many of whom are retirees from the Calgary area with spare time on their hands.
In addition to hosting community events, these halls are rented out to companies and individuals for meetings, weddings, funerals and family reunions.
For more photos of the Arbutus Hall, go to Alberta West Photos here

This is what happened in November, 2006 when the Stauffer Community Hall was torched by local fire departments because of a lack of maintenance and use:

July 2012, where Stauffer Hall once stood:

Howse Pass Highway? - Not likely

Howse River and Pass - early morning view

By Helge Nome

The idea of creating a shortcut highway between Alberta and British Columbia through the Howse Pass, linking the two provinces, has been around for some 50 years.

The Clearwater County Council brought this idea to the attention of two visiting members of Parliament, Blaine Calkins and Blake Richards, at the regular council meeting on June 26. The rationale behind the proposal is to provide an access route from Central Alberta into British Columbia which would shorten the travel distance to Vancouver from Central Alberta by some 95 kilometers by linking Alberta's Highway 11 to the Trans Canada Highway near Donald, British Columbia.

While there are obvious economic advantages to Central Albertans if this proposal goes ahead, there are also formidable obstacles to its likelihood of success: The Howse Pass is an area of pristine wilderness and part of a national park. Also, the Cities of Calgary and Edmonton which are linked to British Columbia via Highways 1 and 16 are unlikely to welcome competition from Central Alberta.
And, the Government of British Columbia would have to back the proposal, deemed to be very unlikely by MP Blaine Calkins.
For snapshots from the Howse Pass, check out this website

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Watch these dudes!

(Editor: I think I will go into hiding in the next war, where busy bees can't find you)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mars landing - cool trailer

The European Atrocity You Never Heard About

In the largest episode of forced migration in history, millions of German-speaking civilians were sent to Germany from Czechoslovakia (above) and other European countries after World War II by order of the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union.

The screams that rang throughout the darkened cattle car crammed with deportees, as it jolted across the icy Polish countryside five nights before Christmas, were Dr. Loch's only means of locating his patient. The doctor, formerly chief medical officer of a large urban hospital, now found himself clambering over piles of baggage, fellow passengers, and buckets used as toilets, only to find his path blocked by an old woman who ignored his request to move aside. On closer examination, he discovered that she had frozen to death.

Editor: The content that you will find at the destination of this link is not for the faint-hearted because it lifts the veil of time from the nastiness that is war. And we are all guilty.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Summer in the West Country

Mother and calf on pasture in Alberta's west country

Photo and story by Helge Nome

The popular public lands in the foothills of the Rockies in Alberta's west country support many activities, including grazing, forestry, oil/gas extraction and recreation. This summer, a major flood in local river systems has caused some damage to roads, but is being taken in stride by land users.

The landscape is criss-crossed by roads and tracks, making it very accessible to all users, and the local wildlife and cattle don't mind generous fields of grass growing along road allowances and under power lines. Regrowing forestry plots in all stages of development can be seen along the roads.

Realizing that Alberta has been at the bottom of oceans and glaziers many times in geological history, one can appreciate the riches of the province hiding under a thin layer of soil. No one should ever want for anything in this province of Canada. For more west country photos, go to Alberta West Photos here

Rocky's first "Market on Main Street"

Rocky area residents check out a stall at the Main Street market

Photo, video and story by Helge Nome

The main street of Rocky Mountain House became a gathering place for buyers and sellers on June 21. It was the first of a weekly "Market on Main Street" program organized by the Town of Rocky Mountain House and local Chamber of Commerce with a view to re-vitalize main street business in the town. This is in response to the universal "move to the big box store" phenomenon in North America and elsewhere which tends to draw business away from traditional main street shopping.

The local public turned out in good numbers at the market, but businesses did not as street stalls are a rather new concept to embrace. However, one can expect that the idea will catch on here, as elsewhere, where great throngs of people fill city streets every day throughout summer and the motor car is put back in its place where it belongs: On the open road. Check out a photo collage on Alberta West Photos here

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Innisfail has new library building

Innisfail's new library building

Photo and story by Helge Nome

The Innisfail Public Library has a new home on the eastern outskirts of town, perched on a wooded ridge and overlooking a residential area. The design of the building is intended to  make it fit into the native woodlandscape that surrounds it. So much so that its irregularly sloping roof has been covered with sod and currently has tufts of grass emerging.

The decision to locate the building on the outskirts of town has been a controversial one in Innisfail and the seniors' centre that was supposed to be a part of the building is now an empty space as local seniors refused to change their gathering place from a convenient in-town location to the new building on the other side of the railway track.

The library will be officially opened on June 28 with ceremonies commencing at 4pm. For detailed information about the library and its operation, go here. For a peek inside the library building go to Alberta West Photos here

Innisfail Rodeo Parade 2012

Two cows sharing an icecream from the Markerville Creamery

 Photos, video and story by Helge Nome

Young and old, big and small, they were all there, in the parade

The annual parade in Innisfail, Alberta took place on Saturday, June 16, in overcast and drizzly weather which did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of participants and spectators. The rural theme was punctuated by the many horses and wagons included. The parade was led by a number of local emergency vehicles, included a marching pipe band, and was wisely trailed by a streetsweeping vehicle behind all the horses.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Clearwater County - more money from the people

Wild rose in Clearwater County

Photo and story by Helge Nome

At its regular meeting on June 12, the Clearwater County Council added an extra $1,033,907 to its tax revenue, as compared to the figures presented in the 2012 county budget on April 24 and adopted by Council on May 8.

At that time the figures came out as follows: There will be an overall increase in tax money collected by the county of some $2.5 million over last year (when $30 million was collected). About $0.9 million of this increase is collected on behalf of the Province as a provincial education tax with the remaining $1.6 million augmenting the county budget. About $1.4 million of the increase comes from industrial operators within the county and the remaining $200,000 from resident taxpayers.

Now, however, an extra million dollars can be added to the figure of $2.5 million, taking the extra taxes collected this year to 3.5 million over and above the $30 million collected last year. And it amounts to one million dollars more than what is needed, as per the 2012 budget figures.

When asked about this, county staff said that the extra million in taxes being collected this year was due to a projected $700,000 budget deficit if last year's tax rate was used in tax collection. So a decision was made to increase the tax rate with a resulting million dollar surplus. This is on top of some $30 million of previous surplus monies that the county has parked in various long and short term investments.

When asked about the extra million dollars, County Manager Ron Leaf said that the money would be used to cover unforeseen county expenditures such as  road maintenance and the possible construction of a sewage treatment plant in the county. Council voted to place the extra million dollars in its contingency reserve fund.

Reason for sun worship

Study Jointly Led by UCSB Researcher Finds New Evidence Supporting Theory of Extraterrestrial Impact

James Kennett
(Editor: We know that our ancestors worshiped the sun as the heavenly deity responsible for life on earth. Perhaps a prolonged period of darkness and cold had something to do with it?):

An 18-member international team of researchers that includes James Kennett, professor of earth science at UC Santa Barbara, has discovered melt-glass material in a thin layer of sedimentary rock in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Syria. According to the researchers, the material - which dates back nearly 13,000 years - was formed at temperatures of 1,700 to 2,200 degrees Celsius (3,100 to 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit), and is the result of a cosmic body impacting Earth.

These new data are the latest to strongly support the controversial Younger Dryas Boundary (YDB) hypothesis, which proposes that a cosmic impact occurred 12,900 years ago at the onset of an unusual cold climatic period called the Younger Dryas.
Read article here

Monday, June 11, 2012

Channel 4 journalist Alex Thomson says: " Syria rebels led me into death trap "

Channel 4 journalist Alex Thomson Photo: CHANNEL 4
11:22AM BST 09 Jun 2012
(The Telegraph)

Alex Thomson, chief correspondent for Channel 4 News said the incident happened on Monday in the Syrian town of Qusair, about half an hour's drive from the battered city of Homs.
Thomson said he, his driver, a translator, and two other journalists were trying to return to government lines when their rebel escort led them down what he described as a dead-end in the middle of a "free-fire zone".
"Suddenly four men in a black car beckon us to follow. We move out behind," he recalls.
"We are led another route. Led in fact, straight into a free-fire zone. Told by the Free Syrian Army to follow a road that was blocked off in the middle of no-man's-land.
"At that point there was the crack of a bullet and one of the slower three-point turns I've experienced. We screamed off into the nearest side-street for cover.
Read article here

The Real Reason to Intervene in Syria

Cutting Iran's link to the Mediterranean Sea is a strategic prize worth the risk.

Syrian rebels

By James P. Rubin


 We're not done with the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran. Given that the current round of negotiations with the world's major powers will not fundamentally change Iran's nuclear program, the question of an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities is likely to return to center stage later this year. In addition to hard-headed diplomacy and economic sanctions, there is an important step the United States can take to change Israel's calculations -- helping the people of Syria in their battle against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Iran's nuclear program and Syria's civil war may seem unconnected, but in fact they are inextricably linked. Israel's real fear -- losing its nuclear monopoly and therefore the ability to use its conventional forces at will throughout the Middle East -- is the unacknowledged factor driving its decision-making toward the Islamic Republic. For Israeli leaders, the real threat from a nuclear-armed Iran is not the prospect of an insane Iranian leader launching an unprovoked nuclear attack on Israel that would lead to the annihilation of both countries. It's the fact that Iran doesn't even need to test a nuclear weapon to undermine Israeli military leverage in Lebanon and Syria. Just reaching the nuclear threshold could embolden Iranian leaders to call on their proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah, to attack Israel, knowing that their adversary would have to think hard before striking back.

That is where Syria comes in. It is the strategic relationship between the Islamic Republic and the Assad regime that makes it possible for Iran to undermine Israel's security. Over the three decades of hostility between Iran and Israel, a direct military confrontation has never occurred -- but through Hezbollah, which is sustained and trained by Iran via Syria, the Islamic Republic has proven able to threaten Israeli security interests.
Continue reading article here

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Legion Poster Contest winners

Dominick Glenn and Tiara Ogilvie display their Remembrance Day Poster Contest winners certificates with attached cheques

Photos and story by Helge Nome

For many years now, the Caroline Legion has sponsored a poster contest for students at Caroline School to keep the memory of service men who lost their lives in war alive. This is now a practice in Legions across Canada and this year students from Caroline did really well:  Tiara Ogilvie in 
Grade 9 won first price at the branch level, second at the area level and first at the district level. Dominick Glenn in Grade 3 won first in all three levels! 24 schools participated on the district level. 
The certificates and cheques were handed out to the two proud winners at the Caroline Legion's Friday night supper event on Friday, June 8.

Tiara's winning poster

Dominick's winning poster

Lions are alive and active in Caroline

Caroline's Lion pack for 2012/13: Front - Al Marchant (Treasurer), Greg Somers (President), Amy Wickins (Secretary), back - Bob Penner (Vice President), Orest Luchka (Director), Ron Wickins (Tail Twister)

Photos and story by Helge Nome

The Caroline Lions Club held its annual installation ceremony on Sunday, May 10, at its Lions Den in Caroline with District Governor Margaret Bouchard officiating. One of its founding members, Orest Luchka, and wife Jeanne, who retired from the community last fall and moved north to be closer to family, returned to be recognized for 41 years of service to the club. And Orest decided to continue his membership, becoming a director on the club's governing board.

Members not present at the ceremony were Nazem Kamaleddine (Lion Tamer), Jim Kline and John Reid. A catered meal was enjoyed by all present, including visiting Lions, well wishers and friends of the club.

Recognized for long service to the Caroline's Lions Club - Orest Luchka and wife Jeanne were given a plaque by Lions Ron and Greg.

A visit to the dark side

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Major oil spill in the Red Deer River

Pristine river bank is contaminated by crude oil during major flooding event

Photo, videos and story by Helge Nome

A major oil spill occurred in the Red Deer River on Thursday, June 7. Reportedly originating in Jackson Creek, just north of Sundre, where a pipeline owned by Plains Midstream Canada is located, a large amount of light crude oil escaped into the Red Deer River and was washed into the Glennifer Lake reservoir many kilometers downstream. Evidence of the spill was plentiful along the high water mark of the Red Deer River, giving some idea of the size of the oil spill.
To see photo evidence of the spill, go to Alberta West Photos here

Heavy rain causes flooding in the Clearwater River

Campground inundated by the Clearwater River, 10 km west of Caroline

Photo, video and story by Helge Nome

The Clearwater River didn't live up to its name on Thursday, June 7, following heavy overnight rainfall in the mountains and foothills that comprise the river's catchment area. Raging debris filled water whirled under the Highway 54 bridge west of Caroline and inundated a low lying campground next to the river. A number of recreational vehicles were pulled to higher ground in order to save them from water damage.

Further down along the river in the Butte area, north-west of Caroline, the river spread out over a gravelly floodplain and threatened to inundate some homes that were only just protected by a municipal road acting as a berm against the rising waters.

The last time a major flood happened in the river in June, 2005, the river actually changed its course in this area and entered the North Raven River watershed, going across farmers' fields and underneath a minor highway (Arbutus Road) with waters ultimately flowing south towards the Mississippi River in the US. The Clearwater River normally feeds the North Saskatchewan River which waters end up in the Arctic Ocean. This time around, however, the flooding did not break the berm that was constructed following the 2005 flood to put the Clearwater River back in its "proper" place, feeding the North Saskatchewan.
For more flooding photos got to Alberta West Photos here

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Caroline Dance West presents: "Rock This Party"

Creative Movement - Young dancers opened Caroline Dance West's 2012 show: "Rock This Party"

Photos and story by Helge Nome

Caroline Dance West presented their annual show at the Fine Arts & Multi Media Centre on the Olds College campus on June 3 and 4. The kids showed their stuff to family and friends in a fast moving show with lots of energy and grace in every number. The advantage of being a member of a smaller club was evident from the fact that there were several solo performances and the same dancers performed in several numbers. Like the Caroline Seniors club, Caroline Dance West now draws people from a wide area around Caroline and use the Caroline Legion Hall basement as a studio during the year.

To view a large selection of action snapshots, and get a free copy, go to Alberta West Photos here

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Early summer on the prairie - west of Olds, Alberta
Photo by Helge Nome 

The richness, expanse and grandeur of the Alberta prairie can be easily discerned in this late afternoon photo against the backdrop of the sky clearing after a thunderstorm. Please click on photo to enlarge.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Caroline's graduating class of 2012

Please click on photo to enlarge and secure a free copy

 Caroline Class of 2012: Kaylee Biggart, Amanda Chyzzy, Megan Coyle, Lauren Crazy Bull, Robert Crossman, Ryan Crossman, Kelsey Fay, Rianna Follis, Katelyn Godwin, Taija Graham, Emily Groves, Joshua Headon, Robert Hehr, Myranda Hensel, Billi - Jean Johnston, Cornel Kaelin, Randi - Lea Masse, Kayleen McKie, Kiara Nadasde - Price, Dion Roper, Ryan Schrader, Teale Spooner, Tyson Stange, Sara Stevens, Danielle Trimble, Micah Turchet, Shayna Ververda, Jordyn Watt

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Journalist calls Obama's drone strikes 'murder'

Jeremy Scahill
Weighing in on President Obama's targeted drone strikes in the Middle East, journalist Jeremy Scahill did not mince words.

During his appearance on MSNBC's "Up With Chris Hayes" Saturday morning, Scahill repeatedly said that such attacks, when they killed innocent civilians, amounted to "murder."

Asked by Hayes why he would use such a "loaded" word to describe the strikes, Scahill responded at length.

"If someone goes into a shopping mall in pursuit of one of their enemies and opens fire on a crowd of people and guns down a bunch of innocent people in a shopping mall, they've murdered those people. When the Obama administration sets a policy where patterns of life are enough of a green light to drop missiles on people or to send in AC130s to spray them down..."

"But that wasn't the case here," interrupted retired colonel Jack Jacobs. "You're talking about a targeted person here." Scahill continued:

"If you go to the village of Al-Majalah in Yemen, where I was, and you see the unexploded cluster bombs and you have the list and photographic evidence, as I do -- the women and children that represented the vast majority of the deaths in this first strike that Obama authorized on Yemen -- those people were murdered by President Obama, on his orders, because there was believed to be someone from al-Qaeda in that area. There's only one person that's been identified that had any connection to al-Qaeda there. And 21 women and 14 children were killed in that strike and the U.S. tried to cover it up, and say it was a Yemeni strike, and we know from the Wikileaks cables that David Petraeus conspired with the president of Yemen to lie to the world about who did that bombing. It's murder -- it's mass murder -- when you say, 'We are going to bomb this area' because we believe a terrorist is there, and you know that women and children are in the area. The United States has an obligation to not bomb that area if they believe that women and children are there. I'm sorry, that's murder."

Scahill is the national security correspondent for The Nation, and the author of the book "Blackwater: The World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army."

He was part of a panel discussion that centered around a lengthy New York Times article published on Tuesday, which disclosed that the Obama administration maintains a "kill list" of wanted terrorists. Obama personally signs off on the killing-by-drone of many suspects, taking into account the circumstances of a possible attack, including possible civilian casualties.

The article says that Obama tries to avoid any loss of innocent life, but that he considers any male in the area a combatant. Civilian deaths in drone attacks have become a flashpoint in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. Article source and strong video on Huffington Post here

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Canadian child economist interviewed

Vietnam war protests revisited

To get this entire 90 minute film go to This documentary presents Earl Scruggs with many greats including Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez etc during the time of the Vietnam War. Earl was one of the only bluegrass country singers to protest the war and speak out against it. Very courageous. The film was not available to the public for over 30 years,. Earl Scruggs: The Bluegrass Legend is the only full-length film on Earl's life & times.

Late season hockey tournament in Penhold, Alberta.

Third and final goal scored by Wolfpack player against the tournament hosts, the Red Deer Rustlers

Photos and story by Helge Nome

Hockey teams of nine year olds from all over Alberta tested their skills at the new Penhold Regional Multiplex on the weekend of May 25 - 27.  The teams were the North Country Stars, North Country Storm, Calgary Riggers, Red Deer Rustlers, Jr. Oil Kings, Havoc Gold and Wolf Pack Wings. The energy and enthusiasm of the youngsters really came out in the games played as these players are the cream-of-the-crop of many minor hockey teams from Alberta and have that extra spark that makes the difference. The venue for the tournament was the newly built Penhold Regional Multiplex which is an impressive modern structure providing a multiple of services to the regional community, as the name suggests. Check out some photos of the multiplex here

Wolfpack players celebrate their weekend tournament win

Friday, June 1, 2012

Who done it ? - in Syria

THE HOULA MASSACRE: Opposition Terrorists "Killed Families Loyal to the Government" Detailed Investigation

by Marat Musin

 ANNA NEWS (Original Russian) and

 Global Research, June 1, 2012

Global Research Editor's Note
This incisive report by independent Russian journalist Marat Musin dispels the lies and fabrications of the Western media. 

The report is based on a chronology of events as well as eyewitness accounts.  Entire pro-government families in Houla were massacred. The terrorists were not pro-government shabbiha militia as conveyed, in chorus, by the mainstream media, they were in large part mercenaries and professional killers operating under the auspices of the self-proclaimed Free Syrian Army (FSA):

"When the rebels seized the lower checkpoint in the center of town and located next to the local police department, they began to sweep all the families loyal to the authorities in neighboring houses, including the elderly, women and children.

Several families of the Al-Sayed were killed, including 20 young children and the family of Abdul Razak. The people were killed with knives and shot at point blank range.

Then they presented the murdered [corpses] to the UN and the international community as victims of bombings by the Syrian army, something that was not verified by any marks on their bodies."

We call on our readers to forward this report far and wide, post it on facebook. .

The massacre in Houla is being blamed on the Syrian government without a shred of evidence. The objective is not only to isolate Syria politically and economically, but to develop a pretext and a justification for waging an R2P humanitarian war on Syria.

The US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice has hinted that if the Security Council does not act, the US and its allies may consider "taking actions outside of the Annan plan and the authority of the [UN Security] Council.”

This report by Marat Musin confirms that crimes against humanity are being committed by terrorist militia.

It is essential to reverse the tide of war propaganda which uses civilian deaths as a pretext to wage war, when those killings of civilians were carried out not by government forces but by professional terrorists operating under the helm of the US-NATO sponsored Free Syrian Army.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, Montreal, June 1, 2012

Read article here