Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Sunday, April 28, 2013

After Hurricane Sandy, Homeless Still Number In The Thousands In New York, New Jersey

MANTOLOKING, N.J. -- The 9-year-old girl who got New Jersey's tough-guy governor to shed a tear as he comforted her after her home was destroyed is bummed because she now lives far from her best friend and has nowhere to hang her One Direction posters.

A New Jersey woman whose home was overtaken by mold still cries when she drives through the area. A New York City man whose home burned can't wait to build a new one.

Fraudulent Unemployment Benefits Payments Totaled $3.3 Billion In 2011: Paper

The U.S. government paid out billions in unemployment benefits to people who were actually working, a new report finds, sparking concerns that a big share of the money meant for the jobless isn't going to the workers who are struggling the most.

Unemployment insurance fraud cost the federal government $3.3 billion in 2011, according to a recent report from the St. Louis Federal Reserve. The largest share of fraudulent unemployment benefits went to people who were still working: $2.2 billion or two-thirds of the fraudulent payments, according to the report.

Sweatshops Exist In Montreal, Says Local Not-For-Profit Director

The deadly garment factory building collapse in Bangladesh has prompted many Canadians to ask questions about what is being sacrificed in order to keep prices low for shoppers in North America.

At least 377 people are confirmed dead after the illegally constructed building collapsed in a Dhaka suburb, and the death toll is expected to rise.

Harper government amends list of industrial projects requiring environmental reviews

OTTAWA — Building a diamond mine, expanding an oilsands mine, offshore exploration or an interprovincial bridge could soon require a federal environmental review under proposed additions and subtractions to the Harper government’s new environmental rules.

But provincially regulated pipelines, facilities used to process the heavy oil from the oilsands, pulp and paper mills as well as chemical explosive plants are among those being deleted from a list of projects requiring federal environmental investigations prior to approval.

“I’m responsible for the RCMP”: Vic Toews responds to interference allegations

After it was revealed this week the RCMP doesn’t want its top brass meeting with parliamentarians without clearance, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says there is a “communications protocol” between his office and the RCMP for a very simple reason: so he can keep tabs on his file.

“I’m responsible for the RCMP.  I need to know exactly what the RCMP is doing and saying because if I go into the House of Commons and I have no idea what is being said, I’m at a distinct situation where it appears that I’m not carrying out my responsibilities to the House of Commons,” Toews said in an interview on the Global News program The West Block with Tom Clark.

National Day of Mourning: Past sacrifice, present struggle

Weekends aside, there's still a lot to thank unions for.

Maternity leave top-up. Employment Insurance. Child labour laws.

Numerous studies -- past, and more recent -- have identified the degree to which unions have contributed to more equitable, safer societies, and jobs where the normally stubbornly persistent gender pay gap has been virtually eliminated.

But on the eve of the National Day of Mourning, it's important to address in very concrete terms why unions are so important.

Unions, activists, politicians honour workers killed on the job

It was the annual day of mourning for workers killed through accidents or illnesses on the job.

Larry Sefton Park was cordoned off using crime-scene tape. The words ‘Police Line Do Not Cross’ had been replaced with hundreds of x-ray photos of broken hands, shoulders, arms, ribs and legs.

Broken bones. Shattered lives.

Canadian officials should be ashamed for attacking scientists

Earlier this week, our Minister for Natural Resources, the Hon. Joe Oliver, went to Washington on what the Canadian media mistakenly insists on calling a "charm offensive." It really cannot be described as having anything to do with "charm" when the minister, fresh from having told La Presse that scientists are less worried about global warming; that 2 degrees is not a big deal, decided to insult one of the USA's most respected scientists, James Hansen.

Dr. Hansen is not just someone who used to work at NASA. He was NASA's top climate scientist. Thursday, I found this tribute to James Hansen that will give Canadians who do not know much about Dr. Hansen (and I guess that means Mr. Oliver, at least) a sense of his stature south of the border and globally. This tribute was written by another Joe -- Joe Romm.

I don't think I can improve upon it, and I ask you to read it. Joe Oliver said James Hansen should be "ashamed" for urging the President to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. He said Dr. Hansen has been "crying wolf." Whatever your views on any particular pipeline, I ask you to read this. And then ask yourself how long we will tolerate having our highest-ranking Canadian officials embarrass internationally by attacking the most courageous of scientists? It is we who are ashamed -- of our government.

A Man For All Seasons: James Hansen Wins The Ridenhour Courage Prize

Original Article
Author: Elizabeth May

Deputy Premier Tom Lukaszuk: the wrong man to solve Alberta's jail crisis

"You know what a tense, sensitive and dangerous situation like an illegal strike at a prison needs? Thomas Lukaszuk."

So Tweeted well-known Edmonton New Democrat Lou Arab yesterday, the self-described political geek, Internet junkie, father, husband and smartass sarcastically nailing the problem with the Alberta government's borderline bizarre response to the wildcat strike by provincial jail guards at eight correctional facilities across the province.

Stompin' Tom Lukaszuk? The guy the Edmonton Sun once dubbed Mr. T. when he chased a car full of kids he reckoned were breaking the law through the snowy streets of an Edmonton bedroom community? The master of the ill-considered Tweet?

Omar Khadr prison interview overruled by Vic Toews' office

A federal cabinet minister rejected a request for a prison interview with former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr even though the warden gave it a green light — a move some are denouncing as extraordinary political interference.

Documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act show the warden of Millhaven Institution, where Khadr is in maximum security, approved the interview request made by the news agency in January, only to be overruled.

The realm between “he” and “she”

Canadian singer-songwriter Rae Spoon identifies not as a woman, not as a man, but somewhere in between.

To Spoon, and what appears to be an increasingly vocal minority, gender is “more like a whole galaxy.”

Which introduces the problem of pronouns. Spoon says “he” has expectations of maleness, “she” of femaleness. So Spoon, 32, likes to be referred to as “they.” Others prefer “ze” and “hir” (pronounced hear) or “per” (short for person).

Boston bombings: Russian wiretap caught suspicious call between bomb suspect, mom

WASHINGTON—Russian authorities secretly recorded a telephone conversation in 2011 in which Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston bombing suspects, vaguely discussed jihad with his mother, officials said Saturday, days after the U.S. government finally received details about the call.

In another conversation, the mother of Tsarnaev, who was killed in a gunfight with police four days after the bombs went off, was recorded talking to someone in southern Russia who is under FBI investigation in an unrelated case, officials said.

Abrams Tank Pushed By Congress Despite Army's Protests

WASHINGTON -- Built to dominate the enemy in combat, the Army's hulking Abrams tank is proving equally hard to beat in a budget battle.

Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams.

But senior Army officials have said repeatedly, "No thanks."

Another protest against EI reforms in Montreal

MONTREAL — Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Montreal on Saturday for the latest protest against proposed reforms to federal employment insurance.

At noon, people holding placards were already streaming off buses used to ferry them to the event, which began at 1:15 p.m. and then wound its way through the downtown core from three different starting points — Place du Canada, Lafontaine Park and Complexe Guy-Favreau. The groups then united and formed one large crowd at Place des Festivals, where a concert was planned.

Striking Alberta jail guards won’t follow back-to-work order: union

The president of the union representing Alberta’s striking jail guards says they are refusing to return to work, despite a labour board ruling that declared the strike illegal.

Guards at the Edmonton Remand Centre and another facility in Fort Saskatchewan are vowing to continue their strike until safety concerns are addressed, Guy Smith of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees said.

Jordan appointment another ‘slap to the pinstripes’

The news last week that the current chief of the Prime Minister’s security detachment, RCMP Supt. Bruno Saccomani, is to be named Canadian ambassador to Jordan and Iraq has caused buzz, not to say incredulity, around the media and the Canadian foreign affairs commentariat.

Mainly, people have either questioned his credentials or defended them, in either case because he is not a career diplomat. One commentator noted that “This is getting into what I would call the Upstairs, Downstairs category.” To rephrase that less elegantly, ennobling the captain of the guard is the sort of historical trope we tend to associate with good old-fashioned personal direct rule.

Jason Kenney has become the chief headhunter for business

You are in Texas or anywhere along the U.S. border with Mexico. Sooner or later, you’ll hear the favourite local gripe — Latinos. Indulge the complainants and some will let it slip that they hire the same illegals to work at their homes or businesses, dirt cheap, under a tacit “don’t ask, don’t tell” deal.

Pay attention to the politics of the topic and you will notice that the politicians who sound the toughest on the topic — seal the border, jail the fence jumpers, cheer the American vigilante posses — are mum on the idea of making it illegal for Americans to employ illegal Mexicans. Fine them. Send them to jail. But no, it’s easier to keep the hypocrisy going.

Rochester groups are protecting the Great Lakes forever

I just got home from an incredible event in Rochester, New York, the fourth Great Lakes tour stop. Maude Barlow, National Chairperson for the Council of Canadians, has been touring around the Great Lakes speaking out about threats to the Great Lakes and what we need to do to stop them once and for all. We began the Great Lakes tour last year where we visited eight cities and continued the tour this year with events already in Duluth, Milwaukee and Grand Rapids.

Wayne Howard, Linda Isaacson Fedele, Kate Kremer and Peter Debes of Rochester Sierra Club, Eric and Jim Olson from FLOW for water along with the support of Cool Rochester, Monroe Community College and Rochester Institute of Technology, did an incredible job organizing a thought-provoking and inspiring event.

Tall tales at tax time: Meet Thomas and Colleen in economic-action-plan-land

There is a nice little story tucked into the pages of Canada's Economic Action Plan 2013. It's a sweet tale of Thomas and Colleen and their two children. (I like to imagine those little stick-figure stickers on the back of their mini-van waving hello to their friends in happy economic-action-plan-land). This story is called "Canadian families keep more of their hard-earned dollars as a result of the government's actions to reduce the tax burden."

Rehtaeh Parsons' parents speak out against Postmedia chain's shameful column

Yesterday, April 26, Postmedia writer Christie Blatchford published a column across the media chain hitting back at the campaign against sexual violence in Nova Scotia that has been sparked by the recent suicide of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons. The young woman's father, Glen Canning, has published a statement replying to the columnist. The text of his statement is below.

Leah Parsons, Rehtaeh’s mother, has also responded to the column, on a Facebook page, 'Angel Rehtaeh,' dedicated to her daughter. Her response to the columnist reads, in part, “This article clearly highlights the “slut shaming” going on in our country and the abuse that Rehtaeh felt over and over for the past 18 months. If a grown woman can write such a biased, degrading, harassing article, think of how a 15 yr old was able to deal with the torment of those young boys. I only pray that you do not have any daughters or granddaughters.”

Prison library closed at Saskatchewan Penitentiary

Inmates at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert will no longer have access to a regional library service, after federal funding was abruptly cut on a contract that had been going for years.

"It was actually a very unique library," Jon Murray, director of the Wapiti Regional library, told CBC News Friday. "It had been operating for over 25 years."

Letter: Canadians need to come to terms with the legacy of residential schools

It was an honour and a privilege to be present Thursday at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel where the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings were taking place. I want to thank everyone who is responsible for facilitating this event.

I am grateful that so many survivors of residential schooling showed up and bravely told their stories, shared with us “Canadians” the suffering that they endured. The legacy of our collective responsibility for this disaster is ongoing. We MUST raise the consciousness of every Canadian — this history needs to be taught.

It’s not only an apology that is necessary, it is support for a complete change in perspective and intention. Starting immediately.

This land is not OUR land. It is native land. It is time to respect that and all that it means. We absolutely must join together to talk about all the issues of the diverse communities that live on this land.

The heartbreak of the many many broken childhoods, threatened families and maligned communities should bring all of us to our knees in sadness and then spur us on to show human kindness and love. It really is time for Canadians to step up — eh?

Original Article
Author: The Gazette

Just because you like it, doesn't make it feminist: On Game of Thrones' imagined feminism

Someone messaged me yesterday asking my perspective on Game of Thrones; wondering if I had any feministy links or insights to share with him.

I stopped watching GoT early in the second season, after Joffrey forces one prostitute to beat another unconscious in a horrifically sadistic and gruesome way. I’d already been having a hard time digesting the women’s-bodies-as-wallpaper theme in the show, never mind the sexualized violence, and watching this misogynist man-child force a woman to beat another bloody pushed me over the edge. It was bad enough that, in the very first episode, teenaged Daenerys is raped by her new husband and it was bad enough that the directors feel it’s necessary to include naked prostitutes roaming around in the background of scenes that don’t require porny, decorative ladies there for any particular reason, but this just did it for me. I feel like I’ve watched enough rape and violence and sexed up sadism to last me a lifetime. No more, please.

Keystone XL: Oil Sands Health Concerns Rise Downstream Of Expanding Extraction

Raymond Ladouceur remembers when he could dip a cup into the Athabasca River for a drink. He remembers when the trout and muskrats were plentiful -- and when his community was healthy.

Despite recent heart surgery, Ladouceur, 72, still fishes and traps, as he has his whole life at Big Point in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta. He snared his first fox at age 6 and recalled waddling home with the animal around his neck, its body dragging between his legs.

Climate Change Scientist Calls Conservatives 'Neanderthal'

The former NASA scientist criticized by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver earlier this week for his views on the Keystone XL pipeline is responding by calling the Conservatives a desperate and "Neanderthal" government.

In an interview with Evan Solomon airing Saturday on CBC Radio's The House, James Hansen defended his position that approving the proposed pipeline would be disastrous for the environment.

Indigenous rights are the best defence against Canada's resource rush

In a boardroom in a soaring high-rise on Wall Street, Indigenous activist Arthur Manuel is sitting across from one of the most powerful financial agents in North America.

It's 2004, and Manuel is on a typical mission. Part of a line of distinguished Indigenous leaders from western Canada, Manuel is what you might call an economic hit-man for the right cause. A brilliant thinker trained in law, he has devoted himself to fighting Canada's policies toward Indigenous peoples by assailing the government where it hurts most – in its pocketbook.

Sea Surface Temperatures Reach Highest Level in 150 Years On Northeast Continental Shelf

Apr. 26, 2013 — Sea surface temperatures in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem during 2012 were the highest recorded in 150 years, according to the latest Ecosystem Advisory issued by NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC). These high sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are the latest in a trend of above average temperature seen during the spring and summer seasons, and part of a pattern of elevated temperatures occurring in the Northwest Atlantic, but not seen elsewhere in the ocean basin over the past century.

The advisory reports on conditions in the second half of 2012.

US schools weigh bulletproof uniforms: 'It's no different than a seatbelt in a car'

The pink bulletproof rucksack that 5-year-old Jaliyah wears to school every day reaches almost down to her knees and weighs 3lbs even when empty, but for her Colorado father, the size and solidity are part of the attraction.

"If you put it on her back, it almost covers her whole body," explains Demitric Boykin. "It was a very hard conversation to have but she knows that it's something that will keep her safe."

MP recounts toll of residential school

MONTREAL — Romeo Saganash says he has accepted that he’ll never regain the childhood that was taken away from him.

Saganash spent the most formative decade of his life in residential school. And while he survived and went on to become a lawyer and member of Parliament for the NDP, his brother never made it out of the Moose Factory residential school alive.

Some Alberta jail guards ignoring back-to-work order

Guards at correctional and remand centres across Alberta have been ordered back to work after the province's labour relations board ruled their strikes illegal.

By Saturday night, cease-and-desist orders were in place at 10 centres in Alberta, according to Dan Laville, communications director for the solicitor general's office.

Washington Lawmaker Introduces Religious, Gay Discrimination Bill

Legislation proposed in Washington state this week would allow businesses to deny service to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population and others, based on religious differences.

Under the terms of the bill, businesses in the state could refuse service to anyone whose religious or philosophical beliefs differ from their own. They could not, however, refuse service based on areas protected under federal law, which does not include the LGBT community.

Michael McCaul: 'Rush To Mirandize' Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Cost Valuable Intelligence

WASHINGTON -- House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said Friday the "rush" to read Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his Miranda Rights cost the U.S. government valuable intelligence. He suggested changing the law so American citizens accused of terrorist activity can be questioned for at least 48 hours.

"Having been a federal prosecutor, I think this rush to Mirandize cost us valuable intelligence in terms of other plots that may be out there," McCaul told reporters on Capitol Hill. "Remember that before he's Mirandized, he does discuss the fact that he's going to Times Square to detonate these other IEDs that were found in his older brother's apartment.

Well, La-Tee-Da: Congress Fixes Furloughs in Time to Fly Home for Weekend, Lets Everyone Else’s Pain from the Sequester Fester

In an inspiring burst of action, congressional committees grilled the heads of federal agencies in charge of Head Start, Meals on Wheels, housing assistance and Medicare, and demanded answers: “Why haven’t you informed us that the automatic sequester cuts we voted for are forcing poor kids out of preschool, starving the elderly, creating more homeless families and denying treatment to cancer patients? One Congressman fulminated, “This was a surprise to the Congress, to the world!”

Plains Midstream Canada Pipeline Spill: Alberta Lays Charges For Massive 2011 Leak

EDMONTON - The Canadian arm of a U.S.-based pipeline company is facing environmental charges related to a massive leak that spilled millions of litres of oil into wetlands and shut down a school in northwestern Alberta.

Plains Midstream Canada faces three counts under the provincial Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, which allows for maximum fines of $500,000.

Syria Chemical Weapons: Obama Says Reports A 'Game Changer'

U.S. President Barack Obama issued a cautious warning Friday that Syria's reported use of chemical weapons could be a "game changer" that could provoke international intervention in the country's ongoing civil war.

Both U.S. and Israeli intelligence claimed this week that Syrian armed forces have used chemical weapons in its battle against insurgent forces.

Partisan mail-outs cross the line

Tories attacking Liberals is par for the course in Canadian politics. The style with which they stage these attacks is, of course, debatable. What is not up for debate should be MPs using their print budgets at the expense of taxpayers for partisan attacks.

According to documents made available by the Liberal party, the Tories plan to spend thousands on taxpayer-supported mailings to inform Canadians of the purported inadequacies of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. Traditionally, these mail-outs are intended to update constituents on the doings of the House of Commons. Not surprisingly, MPs often use them to lecture riding residents on how well they’re being served and all the good things — or bad things, if you’re an opposition MP — the government is doing.

Liberals accuse Conservatives of breaking laws with Justin Trudeau attack ads

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals have filed a complaint with the Elections Canada commissioner alleging the Tories broke Canadian copyright and election laws with their Justin Trudeau attack ads.

Unveiled within hours of Trudeau being named Liberal leader last week, the 30-second Conservative advertisements feature footage of Trudeau shot by the Huffington Post at a charity fundraiser in 2011, as well as video from an interview he gave CTV in 1999.

EU environment committee debates investor protections in Canada-EU trade deal

The European Parliament's committee on the environment, public health and food safety debated the investment chapter and investor-state dispute settlement process in the Canada-EU free trade deal today at the request of Greek MEP Kriton Arsenis (pictured). You can watch the short discussion, which includes a rebuttal from the European Commission, by clicking here and scrolling to minute 12:24). Arsenis has been outspoken inside and outside parliament against investor-state arbitration and didn't hold his punches in today's debate.

The Greek socialist MEP told committee members that when the EU took over competence, or jurisdiction, for investment from European member states in the December 2009 Lisbon Treaty, there was hope that the democratic deficit in these bilateral investment treaties would be corrected. In reality, in the first application of the new competence in the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, "it has proven to be less protective of the environment and more harmful of democracy," he said.

A hard day's labor for $4.76: The offshore assembly industry in Haiti

As we mourn the deaths of nearly 200 people in yesterday’s garment factory collapse outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh, we publish this article about the very issue of garment labor exploitation on the other side of the world. Economist Paul Collier's 2009 report "Haiti: From Natural Catastrophe to Economic Security" recommends for Haiti the same model that in Bangladesh has resulted in a race towards lower pay, disastrous working conditions, and the deaths of more than 800 garment workers since 2006. This article is the begining of a four-part series to explore the implications of sweatshop labor as a model for development for Haiti.

Sun TV a.k.a. Fox News North tells CRTC to make us pay up

The spectacle of Fox News North, a.k.a. Sun News, begging for “mandatory carriage” from the CRTC this week — Canadians must pay for it and it must be top-tier in basic cable packages — is good fun.

It’s like bear-baiting, except that for once the bear is Sun News and not the unfortunate decent guest — like the great artist Margie Gillis — who has wandered into an interview without expecting to be savaged by animals with an unreasonable dislike of modern dance troupes.

Cameron woos right with marriage tax allowance pledge

David Cameron reached out to the Tory right by promising to table a Commons vote on a marriage tax allowance before the next election and to introduce new curbs on benefits ahead of the lifting of restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians settling in Britain next year.

Amid concerns on the Tory right that the prime minister has no feel for their concerns, the prime minister told the ConservativeHome website that he can force the touchstone issue of tax and marriage because he is technically the most senior Treasury minister.

Ed Miliband lays down living wage challenge

Labour would offer tax breaks to persuade the private sector to pay a living wage as a way to boost productivity and cut welfare bills, Ed Miliband will propose on Saturday.

The Labour leader suggests that firms could be offered either tax reliefs on training or capital investment, or lower business rates, in return for paying the living wage.

Drug Czar Defends Funding Punishment Over Prevention

The Obama administration's Office of National Drug Control Policy has promised a "21st century" approach to drug policy, but the White House budget released earlier this month still prioritizes arrest and interdiction programs over treatment and prevention.

White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, on a call with reporters Thursday, said the War on Drugs does not define the Obama administration's approach to the U.S. drug problem. "We can't arrest or incarcerate our way out of the nation's drug problem and we must balance law enforcement efforts with drug prevention, treatment and recovery support," he said. "That means treating the root cause of many drug offenses, which all too often is a substance abuse disorder."

New Koch Brothers Group Revamps Billionaires' Dark Money Operation

WASHINGTON -- The sprawling conservative network backed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch is being overhauled, with some key Koch operatives moving to a fledgling "dark money" group that is poised to become a chief financing vehicle for the mega donors' political and ideological projects, The Huffington Post has learned.

The new organization, called the Association for American Innovation, is expected to ultimately funnel millions of dollars to other dark money groups nationwide. It's being staffed with Koch stalwarts, including Marc Short, who currently oversees other Koch-funded projects, according to a few GOP operatives familiar with the overhaul.

Karl Rove Ranks Bush's Presidency Somewhere 'Up There,' Just Below Washington, Lincoln, Reagan, FDR

Former President George W. Bush isn't quite a George Washington or an Abraham Lincoln, his former campaign strategist Karl Rove admitted to ABC News on Thursday, but according to Rove, he's not too far off.

“The greats, you can't touch: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, FDR," Rove said in Dallas at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. "But yeah, I'd put him up there."

George W. Bush, From 'Tree Man' To Cheney: A Study In Lack Of Curiosity

WASHINGTON -- In the winter of 1996, forest fires were raging across a tinder-dry Texas. Then-Gov. George W. Bush met the press to outline the state's response.

He told reporters assembled in an ornate meeting room in the capitol that he was, of course, on top of the situation, but that the man in charge of operations was an official from the forestry department.

Bush called him to the microphone. "Come on up here, Tree Man," said Bush.