The Dogs Here Are Going To Take A Few Weeks Of Rest

From Doug Draper, publisher, Niagara At Large 

They’re not just barking when they call them the dog days of days best

Even when there are things going on – and there certainly have been a lot of serious and disturbing things going on here and around the world this month – August has always been a time of year when people would rather enjoy the last few weeks of summer on the beach or flipping burgers on a barbecue than paying very much attention to the news.

In the 35 some years I’ve worked as a journalist, there has always been an unspoken rule among many of my newsroom colleagues (and one I happen to agree with) that you don’t choose August to come out with a story or commentary you hope will have an impact on discussion and decision making in the community because too few people will be around to read it. And the number of people who temporarily cancelled their newspapers in August because they were going away on vacation provided pretty clear evidence that the rule made sense. Continue reading

In America, They Sure Still Seem To Have A Long Way To Go On Race Relations

A Brief by Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper

One of the first two books I read in my life that woke me up to the ugly reality of racial hatred in the United States of America were Black Like Me and To Kill A Mockingbird.

Bull Conner's cops and dogs go after black people fighting for equal rights in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963

Bull Conner’s cops and dogs go after black people fighting for equal rights in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963

One would think that there has been some progress in racial relations in America since those two seminal books were published n the early 1960s, and that seemed be the case when America elected it’s first black president – Barack Obama – more than six years ago. 

Yet what you continue to watch is ignorant old white people, mostly uneducated and mostly from the Midwest and south of that country, and creeps like Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh, who embolden them with their hateful rhetoric – gathering at Tea Party rallies and screaming the line; “We want our country back!, which is code, of course, for we don’t want a black guy (notice I am trying to avoide their more popular “N” word – in our White House.

If we need any more proof that things still have a long way to go in race relations in the U.S. (and Canada, for that matter) check out the news around a young black man in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this August, 2014. Regardless of what he did in a convenience store around any shoplifting there, he was shot to death by a cop in that town, while unarmed, and left there like road food for the crows for several hours after. Continue reading

What A Sad World It Will Be When All The Record And Book Stores Are Gone

A Brief Comment by Doug Draper 

I went into about the only place left resembling a real record store in Niagara, Ontario earlier this August to buy the new CD by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, only to be told by the good staff there that the store was no longer being shipped new releases.

Record Theatre in Buffalo, New York, one of the last great independent stores left between Toronto and New York City. Support it while you can!

Record Theatre in Buffalo, New York, one of the last great independent stores left between Toronto and New York City. Support it while you can!

All around the walls of the store were signs saying that a good chunk of the inventory still there was now 40 per cent off and that the lease on the store’s floor space at the Pen Centre mall in St. Catharines was expiring at the end of the month.

The store is (or it was, depending on when you get around to possibly reading this) Sunrise Records – part of a chain of record store with other locations that apparently will continue to survive, at least past this August, in Burlington and Toronto areas. In the meantime, Sunrise Records only remaining Niagara store, just like many other record and book stores across North America, is apparently one more victim of younger people, in particular, whose ear bugs and iPod have closed them off from the possibility of any real, organic contact with communities around them and are buying music and books online. And that is damn sad. Continue reading

Neil Young And Willie Nelson Sing Out Against Piping Canada’s Tar Sands Poison

A Brief Comment by Doug Draper

One might imagine Canada’s Tar Sands prime minister Stephen Harper wanting to ring their necks.

Willie Nelson and Neil Young workng together against Canada's tar sands poison pipe

Willie Nelson and Neil Young workng together against Canada’s tar sands poison pipe

Put another way, I doubt we’ll be facing the spectacle of tone-deaf Harper sitting down in front of a piano any time soon and butchering songs by Neil Young and Willie Nelson the way he has butchered song by The Beatles. Fortunately, Neil and Willie are lining up for a place on a Stephen Harper shit list that will spare them that indignity.

This is all to say that I can’t take a little break from Niagara At Large this late August without posting a high five to two of my favourite rebel troubadours for getting together and doing a concert on farmland in the U.S. state of Nebraska this coming September to raise funds to fight a Keystone pipeline that would carry tar sands shit from northern Alberta down to refineries along the American Gulf Coast. Continue reading

Ontario And Quebec Partner To Strengthen Central Canada’s Economy – Both Take Up Climate Change As Threat That Must Be Addressed

 News from the Office of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne

 August 21st, 2014 -Québec Premier Philippe Couillard and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne met today and announced their commitment to reinvigorate and strengthen the relationship between the two provinces in order to reinforce regional partnership in central Canada.

Ontario, Canada's Queen Park's legislature

Ontario, Canada’s Queen Park’s legislature

“Ontario and Québec share a long-lasting history of collaboration, which has led to great achievements in the past. Both provinces are committed to work more closely together and to revitalize the strategic relationship we have had for many years, since we share many common interests and priorities,” said Québec Premier, Philippe Couillard.

The two provinces form the largest economic region of Canada, with 20 million Canadians. Together, Québec and Ontario are responsible for approximately 56 per cent of Canada’s total GDP and 53 per cent of inter-provincial exports. Continue reading

Enjoy ‘A TASTE OF CUBA’ In Fort Erie, Ontario

News from Dave Thomas, co-chair of the Niagara, Ontario chapter of the Canadian Cuban Friendship Associaion

Sunday, August 24th, 2 to 6 p.m. . the Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association (CCFA) Niagara, will hold “A TASTE OF CUBA” a special social afternoon of Food (pig roast), Canadian and Cuban Music and Dancing.

St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan and Cuban Ambassador Garmendía Peña at a previous annual Taste of Cuba gathering

St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan and Cuban Ambassador Garmendía Peña at a previous annual Taste of Cuba gathering

 Honoured guests will be Cuba’s Ambassador to Canada, His Excellency, Julio Garmendía Peña, Consul General Mr. Javier Dómokos Ruiz, other embassy staff and their families.

All local political leaders have been invitoed to come out and meet Ambassador Garmendia Pena and Mr Domokos Ruiz in a friendly get-to-know-you social atmosphere. The general public is also invited to attend to show local hospitality to a country whose people warmly gree more than one million Canadians each year. Continue reading

American Citizens Group To Host Panel On Emerging Great Lakes Water Quality Threat In Greater Niagara Area

News from the Alliance for the Great Lakes, a coalition of citizen groups on the American side of our Great Lakes

On Tuesday, August 26th at 7:00 pm, the Alliance for the Great Lakes will host a panel discussion focusing on plastic pollution and the Great Lakes at the Lake Erie Seaway Trail Center at 4968 Lake Shore Rd, Hamburg, NY in conjunction with the Plastic Waters: from the Great Lakes to the Oceans exhibit.

Here is a photo of Marcus Eriksen at Wendy Park holding ‘nurdles’ in his hand. I took the photo, so Hyle White Lowry is me  Marcus is with the 5 Gyres Institute. He is the one who has the Plastic Waters exhibit currently in Buffalo until it heads to Grand Rapids for the GLRI HOW Conference in September.

 Marcus Eriksen along the Lake Erie shores in the Cleveland Ohio area, holding plastic polluting‘nurdles’ in his hand. He is currently holdng a plastic waters exhibit in the Buffalo, New York area. Photo by Hyle White, for the Great Lakes alliance.

The panel discussion will address the impacts of plastic debris found in the Great Lakes and potential solutions to this problem. Speakers will include: 

Dr. Sherri Mason, Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Sciences Program Coordinator at the State University of New York at Fredonia, whose ground-breaking research initially brought attention to the issue of micro-plastics in the lakes.

 Brian Smith, Associate Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, has been actively in engaged in the proposed legislation to protect New York’s Great Lakes’ waters from plastic microbeads found in personal care products. Continue reading