Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Tell Us Something We Don't Know



The federal government isn't properly handling the risks that fish farms pose to wild salmon.

Trudeau's environmentalist-cred just took another shot thanks to Canada's environment commissioner.
In a series of new audits released Tuesday, environment commissioner Julie Gelfand takes a closer look at Canada’s management of the $1-billion salmon farming industry, which she warns is lacking when it comes to assessing the risk that diseases among farmed fish pose to wild salmon. 
The department has no requirement to monitor the health of wild salmon or the status of the ocean floor beneath penned salmon farms, said Gelfand, and the department is also providing better funding for research related to fish farms than it is for research to help monitor their impact. 
“The department is at risk of being seen to promote aquaculture over the protection of wild salmon,” Gelfand said after the reports were tabled in Parliament. 
"At risk"? No, no, no. The "at risk" moment passed by a long time ago. This government, just like its template, the Harper government, was seen as promoting aquaculture over the wild salmon years ago.
The research gaps are extensive enough that there’s no way to determine the impact of fish farms on wild fish, she said. Those gaps include a lack of knowledge about the risk of disease, as well as the impact of the drugs used to treat those diseases. Canada also lacks an impact threshold to determine when to shut down or limit fish farming, she added.

Canada also lacks standards for the nets used to contain farmed salmon in the ocean — a particular problem in the Atlantic, where heavy storms often batter salmon farms and destroy nets. 
In 2015, 40,000 salmon escaped from farms in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Better standards are in place in British Columbia, where fewer escapes have occurred, the report says. 
In response to Gelfand’s report, Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc said the government is “committed to ensuring all of her recommendations are acted upon and acted upon quickly.”
LeBlanc is playing possum. If he needed Gelfand's audit to realize the gravity and enormity of the farm fish problem he should explain what the hell he's been doing for the past two years. His supposed epiphany is utter bullshit.

Elizabeth May's Perfectly Reasonable Compromise


What if we could sort out the Athabasca Tar Sands in a way that would eliminate most of the hazards of that Carbon Bomb, increase employment and wealth in Canada, and at least improve our grandchildren's odds of a viable future?  All of those things can be achieved, just not in the way Alberta and Ottawa and a bunch of sketchy Enron alumni in Texas insist it must be done.

DeSmogBlog has an op-ed by Green Party leader, Elizabeth May, in which she outlines how we can have those benefits. It begins by heeding the insights of the last great premier of Alberta, Peter Lougheed.

Trudeau and Notley aren't interested in an approach that would so benefit Alberta, Canada and our younger generations. It was suggested by BC premier Jon Horgan when the three recently got together for a fly-by conference in Ottawa.

It's a simple idea, one that dawns on a good many people when they're first introduced to the perils and problems of exploiting Athabasca bitumen. A few years ago, during the reign of our lord, Harper, I laid it all out to a dear and longstanding friend, a lifelong Ottawa Tory. He listened attentively, asked a few questions for clarification, and then said something to the effect of, "That's ridiculous. Why don't they just refine the stuff right there in Alberta?"

Why not indeed?

Here's the thing. Whether you raise this idea with Trudeau or Notley or any previous prime minister or Alberta premier as far back as Ralph Klein the reaction is the same. They turn into zombies. They say no but never explain why not. They might mutter something about excess refining capacity in Asia just waiting for an armada of dilbit laden supertankers only that doesn't appear to be true at all. (lying and dilbit always seem to go hand in hand)

Once Alberta's Athabasca bounty is transformed into fully refined petroleum products - oil, gasoline, petrochemical products - most of the pipeline problem disappears. Better yet, Canada gets to supply the Canadian market with Canadian finished oil products.  And our grandkids' future will be a bit brighter.

Are You Kidding? Pimp Bitumen but Douse the Centennial Flame to Fight Carbon Emissions?



There aren't many lengths Trudeau won't go to when it comes to pimping bitumen. He'll lie and lie and lie, he'll freely break his promises, he'll even pressure public servants into spinning tall tales - anything to maximize the extraction, transport and export of a toxic, high carbon ersatz petroleum sludge.

But wait. This government is serious about fighting Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. It's so serious it is considering putting out the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill and replacing it with, well, maybe a lovely LED simulated flame. They're all the rage, you know.

The flame is fueled by natural gas ferried across the country from western Canada, a region of the country where environmental groups and indigenous activists are currently protesting against pipeline expansions and carbon emissions from tar sands
In September 2017, the government attempted to decrease the emissions of the flame by striking a “net zero” deal with Bullfrog Power, which provides gas to the flame. The energy company offsets the emissions from the flame by pumping biogas – a cleaner alternative – into its existing pipeline infrastructure in order reducing emission in a separate location. Bullfrog Power declined to comment on the extent of emissions offset by the deal which currently costs the government US$15,000 a year 
The proposed change would not be the first time the monument – a circular fountain with plaques commemorating the dates each province and territory became part of Canada – has undergone a significant makeover.

Last year, the government spent $650,000 to add an additionally territory, Nunavut, to the monument. The flame has been extinguished on a number of occasions, often the result of poor weather. In 2008, the former prime minister Jean Chr├ętien ordered the flame extinguished and covered in order to avoid damage during the G8 protests in Ottawa.
But if the plan to scrap the flame proceeds, the move would largely be symbolic: Canada emitted 722 megatonnes of carbon dioxide in 2015, making it one of the highest per capita carbon emitting nations in the world, largely a result of its resource-intensive economy, size and climate.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Trudeau's Stacked Deck



Did the Trudeau government rig the approval of Kinder-Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline?

Vancouver-based, National Observer, has an 8-part report that the Trudeau government's approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline was rigged, a pre-ordained set up, with public servants ordered to submit findings that supported the pipeline. Quelle surprise!

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr assured National Observer in an April 19 interview that the government had fulfilled its duty to First Nations through a “considerably broadened and deepened consultation” designed to address mistakes made by the previous Harper government in its reviews and oversight of major energy projects. 
...Sources from within different federal departments, however, provide a different perspective about how the Trans Mountain review happened.
Their allegation is serious: that the process was rigged following lobbying by Kinder Morgan. 
Following these industry discussions, the government decided to shorten the timeline on an expanded review of the pipeline, promised by Trudeau’s Liberals during the 2015 election campaign.

Government insiders say the instructions given a few months later — to find a way to approve the expansion — were explicit. Public servants were never asked to prepare for the possibility that the government might reject the pipeline, they explain, or restart the federal review using a new and improved process that Trudeau himself had promised.
...National Observer has reviewed internal correspondence involving at least two federal government departments that confirm public servants were directed to find a way to approve Kinder Morgan’s pipeline. 
Other internal documents, released through access to information legislation, show that some public servants pushed back and warned the government that the process was “moving fast,” comparing it to the mistakes that led to the failure of another west coast pipeline, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project, National Observer reported on April 13.
...Based on this requirement, the courts have the power to reverse the government’s approval of Trans Mountain and force it to restart its efforts to consult affected First Nations. It’s a process that could drag on for months or years, leading Kinder Morgan to cancel its project. The company has already threatened to abandon the pipeline after May 31 due to ongoing uncertainty about opposition it faces from the B.C. government. 
But it’s not known whether the courts would consider any new evidence on appeal.
Harper's Team Now Doing Justin's Heavy Lifting.
...By late October 2016 — one month before the project’s approval — a high-ranking public servant, then-associate deputy minister Erin O’Gorman of the Major Projects Management Office (MPMO), convened more than a dozen public servants from multiple departments to a special meeting to discuss the last steps in the project review. The MPMO is an interdepartmental office set up by the former Harper government in 2007 to speed up the federal review of major projects and make them more efficient.

“I also think she just wants to rally the interdepartmental team a bit as we draw down the clock on the existing timeline for decisions,” wrote a Crown consultations lead in an Oct. 26, 2016 email to colleagues regarding O’Gorman’s invitation. 
Right before their internal meeting, federal officials met with Tsleil-Waututh representatives and told them that the government still hadn’t made a final decision on the project. But in the second meeting for government staffers only, public servants who were in the room said O’Gorman’s instructions were explicit. 
“We have to give cabinet a legally-sound basis for saying yes,” O’Gorman said, according to people at the meeting.
...National Observer identified and contacted public servants at each federal organization represented at the meeting based on copies of an email invitation released through access to information legislation.
Apart from the ones who confirmed O’Gorman’s instructions, some said they didn’t attend the whole meeting and weren’t able to confirm what O’Gorman said, while others referred questions to the media relations offices at their departments. 
None of the six federal organizations contacted by National Observer denied that O’Gorman had instructed the public servants to find a way to approve the project. The public servants who confirmed O’Gorman’s comments also noted that they were never asked to provide advice to support a possible rejection of the pipeline. They said they were only asked to work toward getting the project approved.

I've taken a few hours to let the reality of these reports sink in. I'm appalled that no one in Trudeau's government is even attempting to deny Ms. O'Gorman's role in directing senior public servants to covertly put their thumb on the scale to skew the opinions that Trudeau & Company needed to support their prejudgment in favour of the pipeline.

These public servants are just that, servants of the country. Governments come and go but they soldier on in service to Canada. They are in service to British Columbians as much as they are to the people of any other province. To rig that consultation process is an act of corruption. To tell those public servants to find a way to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline and only that is to deny British Columbia the even hand of its federal government.

We know that Trudeau is a liar, a chronic liar. We know that he'll say whatever he thinks people need to hear to win their votes. We know that he'll make promises he simply cannot be counted on to keep. We know that his word is worthless. This is not a man of integrity and, without integrity, what sort of a prime minister do we have? It's a prime minister who now looks remarkably like the one he displaced and didn't we richly despise that one? Even his resource minister, Jim Carr, is becoming indistinguishable from Harper stooge, Joe Oliver.

Whether these revelations are enough at this late stage for a court to upend Trudeau's corrupt review process and send them back to square one, they're certainly enough to reject this government's legitimacy on the Trans Mountain pipeline.


Trudeau might need a lot more razor wire before this is over.

British Columbia's Newest Arrivals


Seeing is believing. If you want to realize that climate change is real, that it's happening now, it can help to live on a coast. That's where you'll find the most mobile of climate migrants, marine life - fish, marine mammals, and marine birds.

As equatorial and tropical waters heat up, marine species are migrating poleward.  Some are species that we've always had in small numbers, their ranks suddenly swollen with the arrival of newcomers.  Others, such as the humpback whales, are species that had been lost due to earlier predation. It's good to see them back in significant numbers.

Many of these species migrate in pursuit of their prey fish, mainly herring and sardines, which are also moving poleward into cooler waters.

The latest newcomers are bottlenose dolphins and false killer whales found swimming together in what seems to be a mixed pod off the west coast of Vancouver Island.

"To see the two species traveling together and interacting was quite special and rare," researcher Luke Halpin says in a statement. 
"It is known that common bottlenose dolphins and false killer whales seek each other out and interact, but the purpose of the interactions is unclear.” 
“Since 2014 I have documented several warm-water species: common bottlenose dolphins, a swordfish and a loggerhead turtle in British Columbian waters," Halpin says. 
"With marine waters increasingly warming up we can expect to see more typically warm-water species in the northeastern Pacific.”

Monday, April 23, 2018

Really, Have We Stooped to This?


I went looking for background information on Alek Minassian, the suspect in the Toronto van massacre. That led me to a site, jewishbreakingnews.com. They had the basic details and then added the standard sympathies comment from the prime minister:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his sympathies for those involved. “Our hearts go out to everyone affected,” Trudeau said in Ottawa. “We are going to have more to learn and more to say in the coming hours.”
JBN accompanied that quote with this photograph:


Really? Do we do that in this country now? That's obscene.

Given that his name ends in "ian" I'm thinking the suspect is of Armenian descent. They're predominantly Christian.

If You're Wondering Why Modern Prime Ministers are So Mediocre, Look No Further.



Do you ever get that feeling that today's prime ministers are lacklustre, petit fonctionnaires, technocrats all but totally bereft of vision? Well, you're right. They are.

They usually come with a university degree or two. They might have written a book or three. Perhaps they even lectured in some Ivy League school. Yet as leaders they're strictly middle management calibre questing for the head seat at the boardroom conference table.

The great leaders who built Canada were not the Dions, the Ignatieffs or the Justin Trudeaus. They were not the Stephen Harpers or Andrew Scheers either. This current crop are/were not leaders of vision, the sort who can improve the country, build and strengthen the work in progress we call Canada.

Contrast these third-rate administrators with leaders such as Pierre Trudeau or Mike Pearson and you'll quickly see how ill prepared to assume the premiership of Canada the latter day wannabes were when they arrived in politics.

Here is an excerpt from the biography of Lester B. Pearson lifted from the web site of the Nobel Prize organization.

Born in Toronto of Irish stock on both sides of his family, he received a balanced education in politics, learning the conservative position from his father, a Methodist minister, and the liberal from his mother.
Pearson entered Victoria College at the University of Toronto in 1913 at the age of sixteen. Too young to enlist as a private when Canada declared war in 1914, he volunteered to serve with a hospital unit sponsored by the University. After two years in England, Egypt, and Greece, he was commissioned and transferred eventually to the Royal Flying Corps, but, sustaining some injuries from two accidents, one of them a plane crash, he was invalided home. He served as a training instructor for the rest of the war, meanwhile continuing his studies at the University. 
He received his degree in 1919 and then worked for two years for Armour and Company, a meat processing firm; years later he said, with the wit for which he is renowned, that the Russians were claiming he had once worked for an armament manufacturer. 
Returning to academic life, Pearson won a two-year fellowship and enrolled at Oxford University. There he excelled not only in his chosen field of history where he received the bachelor and master degrees, but also in athletics where he won his blues in lacrosse and ice hockey
In 1924 Pearson joined the staff of the History Department of the University of Toronto, leaving it and academic life in 1928 to accept a position as first secretary in the Canadian Department of External Affairs. In this post until 1935, Pearson received an education in domestic economic affairs while «on loan»; in 1931 as secretary to a commission on wheat futures and during 1934-1935 as secretary of a commission investigating commodity prices; the same post provided him with an apprenticeship in international diplomacy when he participated in the Hague Conference on Codification of International Law(1930), the London Naval Conference (1930), the Geneva World Disarmament Conference (1933-1934), another London Naval Conference (1935), and in sessions of the League of Nations (1935).

Pearson moved forward rapidly. From 1935 to 1941 he served in the office of the High Commissioner for Canada in London; in May, 1941, he was appointed assistant undersecretary of state for External Affairs at Ottawa; in June, 1942, named minister-counselor at the Canadian Legation in Washington; in July, 1944, promoted to the rank of minister plenipotentiary and in January, 1945, to the rank of ambassador. During his Washington stay, Pearson participated in the establishment of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in 1943 and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 1943-1945; in the Dumbarton Oaks Conference on preliminary discussion for an organization of united nations (1944); and in the San Francisco Conference on the establishment of the UN (1945). 
Pearson took over the post of undersecretary of state for External Affairs in the fall of 1946, but gave it up two years later for the possibility of action in a larger arena. In that year, Louis S. St. Laurent, the secretary of state, became prime minister of a Liberal government, replacing his retiring leader, Mackenzie King. Pearson, having conducted a successful campaign for a seat in the Commons to represent the Algoma East riding of Ontario, was given the External Affairs portfolio, holding it for nine years until the advent of John Diefenbaker's Conservative government. 
Pearson drafted the speech in which Prime Minister St. Laurent proposed the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), signed the enabling treaty in 1949, headed the Canadian delegation to NATO until 1957, and functioned as chairman of the NATO Council in 1951-1952. Pearson also headed the Canadian delegation to the UN from 1946 to 1956, being elected to the presidency of the Seventh Session of the General Assembly in 1952-1953. As chairman of the General Assembly's Special Committee on Palestine, he laid the groundwork for the creation of the state of Israel in 1947. In the Suez crisis of 1956, when the United Kingdom, France, and Israel invaded Egyptian territory, Pearson proposed and sponsored the resolution which created a United Nations Emergency Force to police that area, thus permitting the invading nations to withdraw with a minimum loss of face. 
When the Liberals were defeated in the elections of 1957, Pearson relinquished his cabinet post but, accepting that of leader of the Opposition, began to rebuild the party. Six years later, when the Conservative government lost the confidence of the electorate, especially on the issues raised by the Cuban confrontations between the United States and Russia, and when Pearson, after a careful review of his philosophical position on national defence, announced his willingness to accept nuclear warheads from the United States, the Liberal Party was voted enough strength to establish a government with Pearson as prime minister
In control for five years, Pearson pursued a bipartisan foreign policy based on a philosophy of internationalism. In domestic policy he implemented programs long discussed but never adopted; among them, in the field of social legislation: provisions for old age pensions, medical care, and a generalized «war on poverty»; in education: governmental assistance for higher education and technical and vocational education; in governmental operations: redistribution of electoral districts and reformation of legislative procedures. The most acrimonious debate of his half-decade in office centered on legislation to create a new flag for Canada. This legislation became the battlefield of the Conservatives, who wanted some portion of the design to recognize the traditions of the past, versus the Liberals, who wanted to eliminate historical symbols. The Liberals won and the new flag was raised on February 15, 1965.
Missing from this biography is another of Pearson's great accomplishments, recruiting his own successor. Pearson brought Jean Marchand, Gerard Pelletier and Pierre Trudeau into the Liberal ranks in Ottawa. Giving us another legendary prime minister was Mike Pearson's parting gift to Canada.


Ask yourself this. Have you seen anybody of that stature, a genuine visionary who set out to build a better Canada, since Pierre Trudeau?

It's not that people of such stature no longer exist. Louise Arbour is a prime example. It's that they're no longer drawn to politics. Politics is now the exclusive preserve of the mediocre, second even third rate individuals who leave nothing in their wake and are soon deservedly forgotten. Canada merits far better. We may pay dearly for want of them. Leaders of great stature will be sorely needed for the looming challenges Canada will face in the coming decades.

The Rebound of the Fuel of Extinction


Fossil fuels are staging a strong comeback. CBC business reporter, Don Pittis, writes that "investors need to know what comes next."  But, he writes, this may be the fossil fuelers last hurrah - maybe.

According to Kirsten Zikfeld, a climate scientist at Simon Fraser university, the days of fossil energy are still numbered.
She says the increasing number of events such as last year's costly and devastating Hurricane Harvey in Berman's home town, Houston, have convinced well informed people around the world that something needs to be done. And she says there is evidence the world remains on an inevitable path to a low-carbon economy. 
"What we see very clearly is actually a decoupling between economic activity as measured by GDP and carbon emissions," says Zickfeld. "Our economies are growing but they need much less carbon in order to actually do that."
While countries such as China and India continue to increase coal consumption, she insists they are strongly motivated to either invent or adopt lower-carbon methods developed elsewhere, especially as the cost of that technology falls. 
Hot countries suffer more from more deadly heat waves, and the large and growing middle class in Asia's biggest cities is insisting their governments cut the medical and social costs of air pollution. 
She is convinced all those factors mean companies and economies hoping to profit from long-term growth in oil consumption will be disappointed. 
"As long as the rest of the world moves toward decarbonizing the energy sector and other sectors, these countries and these provinces that bet on use of oil increasing will have a very hard time," says Zickfeld. 
"I think at some point the economics is not going to work out for them."

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Is Conservative Catholicism Antithetical to Liberal Democracy?


Pope Francis is a neat guy, at least to most of us heathens. He's a welcome breath of fresh air after his rigid, hard line predecessors.

Catholicism has some pretty deep roots in Washington. Six of the nine justices of the US Supreme Court are Roman Catholics. Go figure. Now American Conservatives are cheering Catholic intellectual, Patrick J. Deneen's attack on pluralism in his new book, "Why Liberalism Failed."

Since the election of Trump, writers of all stripes have been lining up to pen liberalism’s epitaph. 
On the left, the pernicious effects of neo-liberal economics has been denounced, while on the right, liberalism’s cosmopolitanism, which has no apparent regard for nation, religion or family, has been decried.
The left’s answer has been to demand more social democracy to combat galloping inequality, while the right has called for the return to traditional values, anchored in the “community”. 
American conservatives, especially among the country’s powerful Catholic minority (which includes six of the nine supreme court justices), have found a new champion for their cause in the Notre Dame political theorist Patrick Deneen. His latest book, Why Liberalism Failed, has been critically acclaimed throughout the conservative press, with the prominent Harvard legal scholar Adrian Vermeule, himself a recent convert to Catholicism, declaring it a “triumph”. 
Rising inequality, the degradation of the environment, decreasing living standards, increasing loneliness, the destructive polarisation of our political world – Deneen blames liberalism for all the ills currently afflicting society. Surprisingly, he does not attribute these ills to the failures of liberalism, but to its success.
...Instead of individualism, Deneen says the future lies with radically decentralised, local communities where the true meaning of culture might be found again. By culture, he means “a set of generational customs, practices, and rituals that are grounded in local and particular settings”

...The call for such a return is anti-democratic, and doubly so. First, Deneen believes political decisions should not emanate from within the community itself – the democratic ideal of self-government – but from an outside source, namely God (and a Catholic God at that). 
Second, Deneen believes the Catholic community has a privileged access to the truth that the rest of the political community – which has already made up its mind on gay marriage and premarital sex – does not. From this perspective, the national community is wrong, and democracy is mistaken.
Curious about this fellow, Deneen, I tracked down a web site where his writings are featured, The Imaginative Conservative. Here you may find Deneen's essays with titles such as "Is Academic Freedom Inherently Good?" or "Equality, Tyranny and Despotism in Democracy: or Remembering Alexis de Tocqueville," or my favourite, "The Case for 'Serfdom,' Rightly Understood."

This Fenian bastard imagines an end to liberalism and its replacement with a form of controlled existence, neo-feudalism, to be so much better because, well, everybody knows his place.
Serfdom, to be accurate, is an arrangement whereby you owe specific duties to a specific person, a lord—and in turn, that lord owes you specific duties as well.

...This was the argument of Bertrand de Jouvenel, who observed in his neglected masterpiece On Power that the rise of the centralized modern State was spurred when monarchs, seeking to break the power of local lords, promised liberation to the people in return for their direct fealty, and thus began a long and familiar tradition of expanding State power in the very name of liberation of individuals from mediating ties. His argument was refined and made with distinct power in the modern context by Robert Nisbet in the earliest years of American conservatism, in his 1953 book Quest for Community, in which he argued that the totalized State was not simply the imposition of despotic force upon a recalcitrant people—it was never that—but was desired by populations whose “longing for community” had been transferred from a range of identities and memberships below the level of the State, to the State itself. 
We begin to see this with ever-growing clarity in our own times—a new, kinder and gentler total State. It promises its citizenry liberty at every turn, and that liberty involves ever-greater freedom from the partial institutions of civil society, or ones remade in accordance with the aims of the State. The states as sovereign political units have been almost wholly eviscerated, and are now largely administrative units for the federal government. Satisfied with that victory, we now see extraordinary efforts to “break” two institutions that have always been most resistant to the total State: churches and family. We see an unprecedented efforts by the Federal government to abridge religious liberty by conscripting religious institutions like Little Sisters of the Poor (and my institution, Notre Dame) to be agents conscripted into providing abortifacients, sterilization, and contraception—in the name of individual liberty. We can expect determined and even ferocious efforts to bend Churches to accept gay marriage as a norm, even to the point of forcing them entirely out of the civil realm. And we see increasing efforts of the government to “liberate” children from their families—represented perhaps most chillingly by the MSNBC clip showing Melissa Harris-Perry explaining how the greatest obstacle to State education has been the pervasive notion that kids “belong” to families rather than belonging “collectively to all of us.”
Having read this garbage I was reminded of Sinclair Lewis' warning to America: "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

It's bad enough that the US has a president with strong authoritarian leanings. It's much, much worse that someone like Deneen should be a "new champion" of American conservatism.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Zakaria - America's "Deep State" Exists and Americans Should Be Grateful


America's "deep state" exists and Fareed Zakaria says Americans need look no further than people like Robert Mueller and James Comey to find it.
One of the oft-repeated criticisms of America is that it has too many lawyers. Maybe, but one of the country’s great strengths is its legal culture. As I’ve written before, Alexis de Tocqueville worried that without a class of patriotic and selfless aristocrats, the United States could fall prey to demagogues and populists. But he took comfort in the fact that, as he put it, American aristocracy can be found “at the bar or on the bench.” Tocqueville saw that lawyers, with their sense of civic duty, created a “form of public accountability that would help preserve the blessings of democracy without allowing its untrammeled vices.”

Comey’s memoir reveals that America does indeed have a deep state. It is one of law and lawyers. And we should be deeply grateful for it.
Before anyone jumps on Comey for the Clinton email fiasco, that's not what Zakaria is referring to. His focus is on Comey, as deputy Attorney General during the Bush era.
Many of the battles the Trump administration is having with the so-called deep state are reruns of battles from the Bush years. As Comey recounts in detail, after 9/11 the Bush administration put in place a surveillance program called “Stellar Wind” that Justice Department lawyers decided, on review, was illegal. Comey, who in March 2004 was deputy attorney general (and filling in for his boss, John D. Ashcroft, who was ill), refused to renew the program. 
White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. and White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales decided to head to Ashcroft’s hospital room to pressure him to sign the reauthorization documents, over Comey’s objections. On learning of this, Comey raced to the hospital and asked then-FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to join him for moral support. It turned out Ashcroft didn’t need any prodding; he turned Card and Gonzales away. Mueller, who arrived a few minutes afterward, said to the bedridden attorney general, who was technically his boss, “In every man’s life there comes a time when the good Lord tests him. You passed your test tonight.” Comey writes that he felt like crying. “The law had held.” 
Round Two happened over torture. The Bush administration wanted to claim that its “enhanced interrogation techniques” were lawful. Comey believed they were not, as did the chief counsel at the Justice Department, Jack Goldsmith. So Comey pushed back as much as he could.

In all of these cases, the pressure from the White House was intense, including a stunning exchange that Comey recounts between himself and Bush. “I say what the law is for the executive branch,” Bush explained to his sub-Cabinet appointee. Comey responded, “You do, sir. But only I can say what the Justice Department can certify as lawful. And we can’t here. We have done our best, but as Martin Luther said, ‘Here I stand. I can do no other.’ ”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the true Deep State. It is the Rule of Law and the men and women who practice and uphold it.
Comey and Mueller were subordinates who owed their jobs to Bush, but also that they were Republicans. Yet the two of them have consistently put their obligations to the law and the country above personal loyalty and partisan politics. 
This behavior may be a product of personal character, but it is also formed by legal training. The story is really not just about Mueller and Comey but about the lawyers in various parts of the government who believe that it is crucial for the country that the government operate within the law — even if the president wishes otherwise. Recall that when Trump wanted to fire Mueller last June, White House counsel Donald McGahn reportedly threatened to resign in protest.
Not all lawyers, by any means, are of that calibre but the best are. The rule of law frustrates and infuriates a good many politicians, Trump especially. Stephen Harper regularly lashed out when the rule of law, particularly Pierre Trudeau's Charter of Rights and Freedoms restrained his authoritarian excesses. Justin Trudeau was frustrated when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the Carter case that assisted dying is a right protected by the Charter.  All healthy liberal democracies have this same Deep State, the evolutionary successor to Runnymede. We should be grateful for that.

Missing Monbiot


George Monbiot rose to fame and acclaim as The Guardian's fearless enviro-scribe, eventually expanding into a broader societal punditry. This scribe would eagerly await Monbiot's next offering to see what condition or peril he would next illuminate. He always dished up plenty of food for thought.

He's been gone long enough that his absence is a bit grating. Prostate cancer. He's chosen the surgical remedy over radiation, a game of chance one way or the other. Odds aren't terrible but they're not great either.

The last entry on Monbiot's web page was a month ago. In it he did say that he would be out of action for several weeks. Nothing to do but wait and see and wish him all the best luck.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Yes, Justin, But What's in the "National Interest" of Our Children and Grandchildren?


Justin Trudeau's highly selective, incredibly narrow, utterly myopic and grossly self-serving definition of Canada's "national interest" is disturbing.

Canada didn't begin with us and it won't end with us either (if we're lucky). When Justin proclaims his bitumen pipeline is in the "national interest" he's not speaking for the nation, the Canada past and the Canada future. The interest he's parroting has very little to do with the nation, Canada. It has everything to do with a small circle of political fiefdoms and the powerful interests they serve.

The video in the previous post is from Alaska but it reflects today's Canada just as much. Watch it. The video demonstrates that "national interest" is not the bastardized span of an electoral cycle. It is a matter of generations. It's a matter of posterity. The national interest is a term devoid of meaning if it does not include the Canada we will bequeath to our children, our grandchildren, and their families in turn.

That's the national interest that this idiot's father understood, that Pierre Trudeau served so well when he implemented for us and for our children and grandchildren and generations beyond, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The constitutional bulwark that has already safeguarded our liberal democracy against the excesses of Harper and, at least once, the same democratic failure in Trudeau.


Stunning, Absolutely Stunning.

The next time someone tells you that pimping bitumen is in the "national interest," invite them to watch this. Then ask them - ask Trudeau, ask Notley - what's in the "national interest" of our grandchildren?

Play this magnificent video full screen, volume up. Then with climate change this rampant ask yourself why we're so bent on pimping bitumen.


GLACIER EXIT from Raphael Rogers on Vimeo.

Trump's Little Prince of Darkness Joins Legal Team


Rudolph Giuliani is joining Trump's legal team dealing with the Mueller investigation.

Curiously enough, I wrote a post on Rudi and his involvement with the Clinton email scandal two days ago.

It turns out Giuliani was also the subject of several references in James Comey's new book, "A Higher Loyalty."

In his interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Comey did say he was aware that Giuliani was on TV in 2016 predicting surprise developments from the FBI just before the November election. Giuliani’s comments suggested he was privy to the discovery of more Clinton emails on a laptop belonging to former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), which the FBI got while investigating him on charges of sexting with a minor. 
“Yes, I saw that,” Comey said. “It’s part of what I ordered investigated.” 
At a Senate hearing last year, days before Comey was fired, he was also asked specifically about leaks to Giuliani. Comey was careful not to accuse Giuliani of anything and said it wasn’t clear whether people at the FBI were leaking to him. 
“I don’t know yet,” Comey told Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “But if I find out that people were leaking information about our investigations, whether it’s to reporters or to private parties, there will be severe consequences. … It’s a matter that I’m very, very interested in.”
It's reported that Giuliani's new role will be to advise Trump on ways he can bring the Mueller investigation to an early end.

Red Scare or Red Worry?



Is the government of China forcing Chinese students at foreign universities to set up Communist Party cells? According to an article in Foreign Policy that is happening on campuses in the United States and other nations.

In July 2017, a group of nine Chinese students and faculty from Huazhong University of Science and Technology participating in a summer program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) formed a Chinese Communist Party branch on the third floor of Hopkins Hall, a campus dormitory. 
The group held meetings to discuss party ideology, taking a group photo in front of a red flag emblazoned with a hammer and sickle, according to a July 2017 article and photos posted to the Huazhong University website. The students’ home institution had sent four teachers on the trip, directing them to set up the party cell to strengthen “ideological guidance” while the students were in the United States.


After the students’ arrival in Illinois, their home university asked the group to set up a temporary party branch and requested that the students hold a viewing party to watch the 19th party plenum in October, the major party planning conference held every five years.

The exchange students at UIUC were also asked to report on any potentially subversive opinions their classmates may have evinced while abroad, according to the student. 
“After we went back to China, we had one-on-one meetings with our teachers. We talked about ourselves and others performance abroad,” the student says. “We had to talk about whether other students had some anti-party thought.” 
Illinois is not alone. Party cells have appeared in California, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, North Dakota, and West Virginia. The cells appear to be part of a strategy, now expanded under Chinese President Xi Jinping, to extend direct party control globally and to insulate students and scholars abroad from the influence of “harmful ideology,” sometimes by asking members to report on each other’s behaviors and beliefs.
...The party isn’t shy about the purpose of these new branches. “The rising number of overseas party branches is a new phenomenon, showing the growing influence of the [Chinese Communist Party] and China,” according to a November 2017 report in the party-aligned Global Times newspaper. “Overseas party cells are also responsible for promoting party and government policies.”
...The party cells popping up on campuses across the United States aren’t the Communist Party’s only expansion abroad. The U.S.-based party branches are part of a growing network of cells located on campuses in Canada, Mexico, Chile, Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, South Korea, Thailand, and elsewhere.

Busting Trudeau's Bitumen Bullshit. The "National Interest" Scam.



It's time for the Great Prevaricator to show Canadians this massive Asian market eagerly awaiting Alberta bitumen.  Tyee contributor, Mitchell Anderson, says it's pretty much non-existent.


Canadians have been repeatedly told the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will open up lucrative new overseas markets for unprocessed bitumen. This is nonsense. 
Tankers loaded with crude from the existing pipeline have been leaving Vancouver for years and virtually all of these shipments have been bound for refineries in the U.S. Several of these plants are just across the border in Washington State and also receive Alberta crude through a connection from the Trans Mountain pipeline to Puget Sound. 
Unprocessed Canadian resources are then upgraded at some of the most profitable refining margins in the world and sold back to local captured markets at a steep markup. Is this the national interest that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Trudeau speaks so urgently of? 
The Port of Vancouver recently posted their cargo statistics for 2017, shedding more light on the enduring myth of eager Asian markets for Alberta bitumen. 
In 2017, 1,767,672 tonnes of crude petroleum were shipped from Vancouver, with 1,767,592 bound for the U.S. - or 99.99 percent. The remaining 80 tonnes were exported to China with an approximate market value of less than $40,000. If Asian markets will bring higher prices, why aren’t companies shipping crude to them now? It seems Asia is unlikely to bring billions in prosperity to Albertans anytime soon. 
Equally illuminating was the inbound cargo figures from the United States. Last year the U.S. shipped back about half the export crude tonnage in form of refined oil products, including 456,816 tonnes of aviation fuel, 374,980 tonnes of gasoline and 85,143 tonnes of diesel. Based on current market prices, these products had a pre-tax value of over $1 billion. 
In comparison, crude exports to the U.S. of 1,767,672 tonnes or 13 million barrels were worth about $600 million, meaning that imported refined petroleum was worth some three times as much per tonne. 
This Canadian resource myopia is a windfall for the five refineries across the border in Washington State, particularly the two owned by Shell and BP tooled up to refine discounted Alberta bitumen and connected to the existing Trans Mountain pipeline that crosses the border at Sumas. Over half of Trans Mountain shipments in 2017 went directly to these U.S. facilities, with additional marine shipments by tanker from Vancouver.
...How badly is Canada missing out by not refining our own oil? The oil industry has a colourful term called the crack spread to describe the profit margin for refineries between buying crude and selling refined products. 
Washington refineries buying Alberta bitumen have some of the largest profit margins in the world - up to $45 US per barrel in 2013. Not surprisingly, Vancouver also has some of the highest retail gasoline prices in North America. 
Little wonder some interests are so keen on seeing the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. According to a recent market research paper bluntly titled Pacific Northwest Refineries: Cheap Crude and a Captive Market “Both Shell and BP were in a strong position to benefit from bargain-priced heavy Canadian crude that the other refiners cannot process in significant quantities due to lack of investment in coking units… If the Trans Mountain pipeline is expanded in 2019 it will provide considerable opportunity to upgrade or expand Puget Sound refineries.” 
Using the more conservative crack spread of $24 per barrel in 2016, Trans Mountain will create massive potential profits for west coast refiners. With an eventual capacity of 890,000 barrels per day, U.S. refineries could pocket $7.8 billion US per year adding value to Canadian crude that our prime minister seems eager to export unprocessed.

Alberta's Rank Stupidity

It's not just Alberta's dreary record of "pissing it all away" whenever they get an oil boom, although Wild Rose profligacy is legendary, (that's why they can't have nice things, they're wastrels who can't handle money) they're also astonishingly stupid in not refining the crud on site in Alberta and selling the end goods directly to the Canadian market - the very thing B.C. premier Jim Horgan has suggested.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s government has recently suggested it might buy the Trans Mountain pipeline outright to further scale up raw bitumen exports. This is starkly at odds with an announcement earlier this year that the government planned to provide $1 billion in grants and loans to build new upgraders in the province. Or Notley’s campaign promise in 2016 to create more refinery jobs in the province “instead of exporting them to Texas.”

Meanwhile U.S. corporations have invested $185 billion in refinery infrastructure while Alberta attracted only $4 billion. The province just saw the first new refinery opened since 1984 in spite of a chorus of local naysayers who derided the project for years. 
B.C. has only two remaining refineries, one of which is located in Burnaby just beside the Kinder Morgan terminal. Unionized workers at this plant strongly oppose the Trans Mountain expansion on the grounds it will divert badly needed feedstock to U.S. competitors. The Burnaby refinery has a capacity of only 55,000 barrels per day compared to the combined capacity of 630,000 barrels just across the border. Three other former refineries in Burrard Inlet have closed, apparently due to Trans Mountain’s impact on B.C. refining margins. The union has argued in the past that Kinder Morgan’s approach favours U.S. refineries.
The enduring myth of Asian markets still seems a useful talking point, judging by how often Canadians hear it in the media. Yet when not badgering the public, the Alberta oil industry is quite candid about sending unprocessed Alberta crude and bitumen to California instead of China. Perhaps that is why so much Canadian effort went into undermining California’s low carbon fuel standards. 
Instead of putting our coast at risk shipping profits to the U.S., why aren’t we expanding local refining capacity? Why are Alberta and Ottawa hell bent on pushing through a pipeline possibly costing billions in public money to export unprocessed Canadian resources? 
Consider that non-consensual crack spread next time you bend over to fill up for $1.50 per litre.
But wait, there's more. Check out DeSmogBlog's post on "The Myth of The Asian Market for Alberta's Oil."

Here are two brief excerpts that should make you question Trudeau and Notley's honesty (hint, honesty has no currency to that pair, they're liars):

Canadian producers already have the ability to ship their heavy oil to Asia via the existing 300,000 barrel per day Trans Mountain pipeline — but they’re not using it. 
“Virtually no exports go to any markets other than the U.S.,” economist Robyn Allan told DeSmog Canada. “The entire narrative perpetrated by Prime Minister Trudeau and Alberta Premier Notley is fabricated.”
And then there's a former partner from Trudeau's favoured accountancy, KPMG:
There’s no appetite in Asia for heavy oil,” said Eoin Finn, former partner at KPMG, in an interview with DeSmog Canada. “They don’t have the refineries to refine it. And the world is swimming in light sweet crude that’s cheaper and easier to refine, and altogether more plentiful.”



Trudeau's Silver Haired Moron's Plan - Pour Gasoline on the Fires.



Oh great. Trudeau's cabinet jester, that idiot Carr, is at it again. You know, that Manitoba moron who mused about calling in the army to sweep away British Columbia First Nations and environmentalists who might stand in the way of this government's pet fetish, the Trans Mountain pipeline.

“We think that federal jurisdiction is clear; we’re looking at legislation to see how we can enhance that,” federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said in an interview on Wednesday.

Kinder Morgan stated on Wednesday that the Trans Mountain project “is now facing unquantifiable risk” because of B.C.’s position, and court challenges that have not yet been concluded.

In an effort to blunt the impact of B.C.’s reference to the courts, Ottawa is preparing legislation that would not only declare federal jurisdiction over the project, but give it added clout to enforce it. Mr. Carr said the government has not yet decided the exact nature of the legislation. 
“We assert the federal jurisdiction that has been asserted by us before and it also has been commented upon by courts in Canada including the Supreme Court,” Mr. Carr said. 
B.C. Premier John Horgan told reporters he will await details of the federal bill before responding, but warned that Ottawa is not picking a fight solely with his government. 
“I know other provinces, particularly Quebec, will be acutely interested in the federal government trampling on provincial rights − while we are trying to establish those rights,” Mr. Horgan said in Victoria.
Bingo. Constitutional crisis. Score one for that sketchy pipeline company from Texas and the Ottawa government in their service.

Bruce Ryder, a law professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall, said Ottawa can use the law to signal that it will not allow provinces or municipalities to frustrate the pipeline construction. 
Mr. Ryder said B.C. could challenge the legislation in court, creating more uncertainty. He added, however, that solid case law backs federal authority. 
“It won’t be popular in Quebec,” Mr. Ryder said. “It’s a rather heavy-handed assertion of the primacy of federal jurisdiction because it cuts against the idea of co-operative federalism and frustrates the expression of democracy at the provincial and municipal level.”
The problem with Carr's approach is that people push back when they feel unjustly pressured. There are people in my province who intend to push back, force the government to show its willingness to resort to violence and then respond in kind.

Coupled with Trudeau's earlier threats and Notley's unbridled aggression, what Carr seems to have in mind is nothing if not inflammatory.

In Carr, Trudeau has a real hammerhead, just the guy to blunder Canada and British Columbia into something Trudeau may regret. If they do want to kill off cooperative federalism, if they want to diminish the constitutional powers of provinces then they're making a powerful case for British Columbians (and Quebeckers) to reclaim control over their own destinies.

As my central Canadian friend, Peter Lowry, put it the other day:
"There is a strange irony that Pierre Trudeau did so much to help pull Canada’s confederation together. It is his son who has the nerve to call himself an environmentalist who thinks he can ignore the concerns of those who care. The bad economic choices of Alberta politicians are hardly the stuff of a confident and consensual confederation."
Justin Trudeau inherited a legendary Canadian name. He was never man enough to grow into it.

Where a Little "Job Churn" Might Be a Good Idea



It's all about job security. Who can forget when Cap'n Comfortable, Trudeau's quite wealthy finance minister, that Morneau guy, told Canadians they would have to accept future of "job churn," hopping from one uncertain and short term job to another, like a polar bear leaping from one shrinking ice floe to another. Both, by the way, conjure dystopian outcomes.

It would have been nicer if Morneau had accounted some government initiative to bolster job security in the private sector, perhaps giving useful employers a bit of a tax break coupled with an extra tax or two for gig market employers, something anyway, instead of telling Canada's young people, "That's your future. You're fucked. Sucks to be you. Now, go away, I have Higher Purpose People who deserve my time."

The fact is job churn might, in rare cases, be helpful. I have one example in mind: Canadian journalism.

As our corporate media cartel arose, newsrooms across the country were gutted. Why pay people in each province to write an editorial when you can pay one person toiling at some Hamilton strip mall to write that editorial. And, sure enough, owners and editors began sacking redundant journalists and columnists with abandon. The problem is their approach. They did it from the bottom up. They slaughtered the ranks of the newbies and left the tired old hacks to pump up the same old stale bromides on and on and on.

The tired old hacks, and we all know them, got into lifeboat survival mode. More and more they began writing garbage that sounded like it was dictated from the boardroom, not the newsroom. They also wrote in an old man's voice, predictable stuff. Who wants to pay for that? Apparently, damn few.

Coyne, Gunter, Ivison and, yeah, Walkom too. Let's not forget Rex Murphy either. They're all old hacks. When they write about the future they haven't got any skin in the game. What do they care? They're not out to shake up anybody. They just want that next paycheque, maybe some juicy speaking fees along the way, and that cushy pension at the end of the road.

A lot of us seem comfortable with those borderline geriatrics. They're more or less of our own vintage. They tend to see things from our advanced perspective. They're like an old boot. Too much like an old boot. They're like the old guy on the porch in his rocker yelling at the future to get the fuck off his lawn.

I suspect they're a major factor in the national myopia. When you read their stuff you're not hearing the voice of 20 and 30 year old Canadians, our youth, who face a considerably more daunting future than these atrophied hacks ever knew or ever will.

Canadian journalism would be better if only we had some means to phase out these geezers to make way for new - and, yes, better - voices.  Put the geezer generation out to pasture. 20 years and out. That's still time for them to scrounge up another career, perhaps as an honest hack, a PR guy. That's not that far a reach from what some of them have already become only without the illusion of editorial integrity.

Canada is at a point where we need a much better informed electorate. We've had decades of corporate-friendly messaging masquerading as news and corporate-friendly opinion writing. Those corporations can look after themselves.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What We Need to See For Starters


Tankers, safe? No.

Even double hulled ships can founder in many ways. Their hulls can still be pierced by rocky projections, especially if they're battered against those rocks repeatedly in stormy seas. They can lose steerage. It does happen. They can suffer engine failure at a critical moment. Fires always pose a problem given that tankers are full of stuff intended to burn.

Now, a government that goes to some lengths to assure anxious citizens that an armada of heavily laden, clumsy supertankers can safely navigate the Strait of Georgia needs to tell those citizens, in detail, real detail, what happens when things go wrong. What happens if one of their tankers is broken on the rocks in a storm? What happens if there's a collision with another ship? What happens if the ship experiences a major fire? What happens if that tanker sinks?

The Georgia Strait, the passage these tankers will ply, has a maximum depth of 447 metres or a little over 1,665 feet. The mean depth is only 515 feet.

So, what do you do if you have a dilbit laden tanker broken in two lying on its side in 1,665 feet of water that's ripped by tides and currents? How do you make that safe? Have you got anything capable of handling a task that massive at those depths? If so, what? What if it's only at the mean, 515 feet. How do you make that safe? What have you got capable of handling that Herculean challenge? Nothing? That's what I thought.

What happens if those currents carry that dilbit out onto the seabed? How far will it go after a month, after three months, after a year?

We know that the marine food chain begins at the seabed. How much contamination will dilbit or just bitumen cause to the marine food chain? For how long? Decades, generations, essentially forever? How long does it take for the heavy metals and the carcinogens to leach out? How do those deadly elements enter the food chain? How do they work their way up the food chain through bioconcentration? How long before it reaches the salmon, the orca and the humpbacks? What havoc will it wreak on the seals and sea lions, the porpoise and dolphins? What about the Dungeness crab and the giant Pacific octopus, the sidestripe and the spot prawns, the squid? What will it do to our oyster beds, our mussels and our scallops? Will it turn the main prey fish, the herring and the sardines, into toxic time bombs for those many species which, without them, cannot survive? Will it take weeks, months, a year? How long will it continue to contaminate the marine ecosystem, one of the richest in the world? Decades, generations, essentially forever?

Trudeau, McKenna, Garneau, that idiot Carr, they all ought to have verifiable answers (they have lied, a lot. they cannot be taken at their word) to each and every one of these questions. They ought to have those answers at their fingertips. They ought to have it published and a leaflet delivered to every home in the area.

What's their plan if this enters the human food chain? Are they planning on closing off the Strait, perhaps the Salish Sea, to the public, to boaters and sport fishermen? Are they going to tell the fishing boat owners and their crews, the sport fishing guides, the whale watching operators, to start flipping burgers and selling fries? What's the plan for those people?

We know that Dame Cathy has approved the use of Corexit as an oil spill dispersant. It's the same toxic garbage that was used on both the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon disasters. It doesn't really disperse oil. It merely sinks it to the bottom. Research from the Gulf of Mexico revealed that Corexit makes oil some 52 times more toxic. However it does get oil out of sight  and out of sight is, supposely, out of mind. Just approving the use of Corexit is an admission, what lawyers call a declaration against interest. It is an admission that they haven't got a hope of cleaning up a dilbit spill.

How are you going to make this right with anybody, everybody affected? Who's going to put up the money? Notley? She's broke. Trudeau? Fat chance. He's the last guy anybody should trust. He breaks his word as easily and often as ordinary folks break wind only they're a good deal less noxious.

What about our First Nations? We celebrate them when they recreate the voyages of their ancestors in their majestic and massive cedar canoes. As far as they're concerned the Salish Sea is their ancestral waters. What are you going to do if you ruin that for them? How can you conceivably make that right? How do you place a price tag on someone's ancient birthright?

What about the precautionary principle, Justin? It's the law of the land, the law of Canada. Its purpose is to protect ordinary Canadians, their homes and their livelihoods, from reckless dumbasses like Trudeau and Notley and Kinder Morgan and the bitumen barons who can't answer these questions. The onus is on them to prove that this can be done safely.

As far as can be told, Justin imagines the precautionary principle may be the law of Canada, just not coastal British Columbia. We are apparently beyond the protection of that law as far as Trudeau is concerned. He and his minions and the corporations they serve aren't too keen on answering these fundamental questions because they all know, full well, what that would mean to their infernal pipeline.

Fuck that.

------------

Update: I realize this is an angry post. Perhaps it should be tempered with a touch of levity. Here for your amusement is Justin Trudeau's mandate letter to Enviromin Cathy McKenna. Let the hilarity ensue.



Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Hot? No, Cool.



Heating is a major contributor to modern energy consumption. We like to keep our homes, workplaces and business we attend nice and comfortable. That takes a lot of energy.

Only we're in a warming world, one that has a long way to go yet. This means we're going to need a lot of cooling: refrigeration and air conditioning to handle the heat. It's not estimated that, by mid-century, we'll be using more energy for cooling than for heating.

Energy use for air conditioning, refrigeration and other cooling appliances will jump 90% on 2017 levels, experts estimated, posing a challenge for energy grids and efforts to curb climate change.
The University of Birmingham said the rise would come even with conservative estimates of how much demand for cooling was likely to increase in China, India and hotter countries. 
“Cooling just really isn’t part of the big debate. And yet we lose 200m tonnes of food each year because of a lack of cooling. That has massive repercussions,” said Toby Peters, a professor in power and cold economy, working at the university, who is also part of the Birmingham Energy Institute.

The institute will host the first ever conference on “clean cold” on Wednesday, exploring how to tackle the problem and boost the 0.2% of energy R&D budgets spend on cooling.
Even Britain is in store for an air-conditioning makeover.
The biggest energy demand for cooling comes from air conditioning to keep people comfortable, but it is also essential for stopping food from going to waste and protecting medicines. 
While air conditioning in UK homes is a rarity today, Peters said it was a question of when, not if, the technology became normal for householders.
...If the world’s future appetite for cooling is provided by the current fossil fuel-heavy energy mix, carbon emissions will rise 2.5 gigatonnes by 2050. Global emissions from energy were 35 gigatonnes last year.
To meet the growth in cooling without pushing up emissions would take almost all the new solar power expected to be installed by mid-century, Peters calculated. 
He said: “Yes, we need to look at more efficient cooling technologies and greening electricity, but when you see the size of the demand we have to be much more radical in our thinking and start to invest in [tackling] this.”


What Comey Left Out


Former FBI director, James Comey, has been getting well deserved comeuppance from the American left for not taking responsibility for the Hillary email fiasco, late campaign, that may have cost her the White House. The standard complaint is that Comey was playing Republican politics when he announced the email investigation while not disclosing the investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia. How do you rationalize the two?

Here's my guess. Comey was trapped by agents at the FBI's New York field office who were cooperating with Trump campaign ally and former New York mayor, Rudi Giuliani.

Giuliani was all over the Hillary email scandal. One night I saw a clip of Giuliani appearing on CNN. He was grinning like the Cheshire Cat when he let slip some details of the New York FBI investigation into Clinton. At the time I wondered how Giuliani could possibly have access to that information? FBI investigations are not open for inspection to outsiders. Before long it seemed to dawn on Giuliani that he had just put himself and his FBI collaborators in a terrible spot and he desperately but unconvincingly tried to back peddle.

In the days and weeks that followed, reports came out about some rogue agents in the New York field office who were determined to get Hillary and hints that Giuliani might have been orchestrating their efforts.

Did those New York guys have something on Comey? Who knows? Did he announce the Clinton email investigations to head them off at some pass? Is he to be believed when he claims he kept silent about the Trump campaign investigation into Russian ties because he assumed Hillary would win in November?

One thing I've been hoping for is that Mueller will, at some point, find the evidence needed to indict Giuliani. Perhaps that's too much to hope for.



"Here I Stand" - The Late Rafe Mair on an Independent British Columbia. He Saw This Coming, a Lot of Us Did.


Lawyer, Social Credit cabinet minister, columnist, broadcaster: Rafe Mair was one of those legendary firebrands British Columbia occasionally produces. Mair died in early October, 2017, seven months after he had penned a call for British Columbia to leave Canada.

His words never rang truer than now when we're getting browbeaten and strong armed by our federal government and threatened by the malignancy on our eastern frontier, Alberta. Mair had them both foremost in his mind when he wrote this.
I find I no longer come close to sharing the values Canada now stands for – I’m not talking about opinions but a philosophy of life, a set of basic values. 
As a core value, I value the environment above the desire of bankers and developers to make money and bought and paid for politicians to support them. I accept the need for societal sustenance but do not accept plunder in the name of progress. 
The flashpoint is the Trudeau supported revival of the Alberta Tar Sands and the Prime Minister compelling BC to sacrifice both principle and its environment to the transport and sale of Tar Sands product to places that will be under no constraints as to its use. I believe Canada must accept responsibility for safeguarding water, land and air in places it exports products and services. I cannot be loyal ro a country that has no such values.
...I have long felt more British Columbian than Canadian. When BC Minister for constitutional affairs working on amending the BNA Act to become the Constitution, I observed the perpetual second class treatment of BC and saw how no one cared that the Senate was an ongoing, deliberate putdown of my province, observed its woeful lack of representation on federal boards and commissions, lack of BC prime ministers and utter absence oF BC Governors-General, the disgraceful Prussian arrogant treatment of BC’s fishery by the federal government, the unthinking and uncaring expectation that in the 1970 FLQ crisis that it was fine to put BC, which wasn’t involved under martial law (no one would surely suggest that a murder and a kidnapping in BC by BC separatists, would have resulted in Ontario and Quebec being placed on martial law). The put downs seemed endless and started early. 
My generation grew up learning that Canadian explorers were Cartier and Champlain, Indians were Iroquois, Algonquin and Huron, and some limey, Sir Isaac Brock was a Canadian hero. I learned about Captains Cook and Vancouver, Quadra and Russian settlements in British History in a private school and about Simon Fraser and David Thompson at UBC. I didn’t read a decent history of BC until from Dr. Walter Sage and Dr. Margaret Ormsby in secohd year UBC and the real history of the land of my birth until I was nearly 70 and interviewed Dr. Jean Barman on her classic, The West Beyond The West. I doubt one in 100 kids of my vintage could name the first BC premier or the rich Victoria merchants, without a suggestion of public support, who sold us out to Ottawa for a mess of potage and a railway to help Ontario grab our resources cheap.
...The real reason I want BC out is a question of principles, or values, if you prefer. I’m not talking about political issues but basic tenets of belief.
The Meech Lake/Charlottetown Accords disclosed a basic gap between the Central Canadian elite – the people the late Denny Boyd called “Higher Purpose Persons (HPPs)”, who know best, – and those ignorant idiots in BC who refused to accept special powers for one province. 
After Elijah Harper killed Meech Lake, BC said next time it won’t be the premiers deciding but the people in referendum and thus it was that The Charlottetown referendum was held and 67.9% of British Columbians said “we’ve had enough of your patronizing crap – get stuffed!” 
Then Justin Trudeau decided, cross my heart, hope to die, to give Canadians a better voting system. To do it democratically, we’ll hold cozy neighbourhood meetings around the Country, then the House of Commons will meet, and the Liberal Party will cram through a reformed First Past The Post with a preferential ballot and presto! by an amazing coincidence, The Liberals will have its way and should carry Central Canada forevermore.
HPPs said there mustn’t be a referendum because, er, the people can’t understand these complicared issues and remember what happened when they voted on Charlottetown! In fact the HPPs were right for the wrong reason. Trudeau understood it was a Liberal Party Permanent Election formula he was after and wasn’t going to let those troublemakers in BC spoil it all for the elite, the HPPS as they did with Charlottetown in 1992. It was safer to break your word and lay low.

...I am an environmentalist. When we lose our environment, be it the extinction of a species we’ve never heard of, a valley sustained by its fauna, flora and water or a run of herring it is a huge tragedy. That list, as you know, is endless. Reading reports from Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd breaks the heart. 
Does that mean that I oppose all industry and development? 
That’s a pretty silly question. We have to work, eat and survive. But to the Canada exemplified by Trudeau, development, without more than cynical word service for the values I care about, trumps everything. Bear in mind throughout the balance of what I have to say that the Precautionary Principle is the law of Canada
Definition – The precautionary principle (or precautionary approach) to risk management states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public, or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus (that the action or policy is not harmful), the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking that action
Start with fish farms. Recently disease spreading from farms to wild salmon was scientifically demonstrated yet another time. The evidence of assaults on our wild salmon by sea lice from fish farms and disease from farmed fish, not to mention damage to other sea life and to the ocean floor, has piled up for 15+ years, is overwhelming yet, in as few words as possible, what was Fisheries Minister and DFO answer to the plethora of evidence generally and to the latest report? “BC, GO FUCK YOURSELVES!” 
Forgive my language but when I look at the work Alexandra Morton has done, the long underfunded battle of First Nations, the impact of this fascist government on commercial fishermen and, yes, sports fishermen, going back to Confederation that’s the only way I can translate the Federal Government’s attitude of sacrificing our precious resources to a large Norwegian despoiler of nature.. 
Does this offend your basic set of values? It certainly does mine! 
...The Alberta Tar Sands, the world’s biggest natural polluter, produces a tar like substance artificially liquefied, which if spilled, especially on water, is virtually impossible to clean up as it usually sinks too quickly to be dealt with, a spill defined as minor into the Kalamazoo River, in Michigan, in 2010, has not yet been cleaned up and probably never will be. The federal government has approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline to bring this from the Tar Sands through BC to Burrard Inlet (Vancouver Harbour) them taken by tankers across the Salish Sea, through or near the Gulf Islands through the Straits of Juan de Fuca to the Ocean. 
The company claims this will “only” add 400 tankers a year but as the Duke of Wellington said to a man on a London street who hailed him ‘Mr. Robinson, I believe’, “Sir, If you believe that, you’ll believe anything!” 
Spills are inevitable. So are tanker collisions and serious ones. Great damage will be done to our precious sea life, lives will be lost. And for what? 
Does this offend your basic set of values? It certainly does mine! 
A final word. Many things make up a nation but in my view shared values outrank all the rest combined. These aren’t political quarrels I have with Canada, though I have lots of them. No, these are fundamental values I can’t live without and Justin Trudeau can’t live with. None of these values destroy industry but put it, and what we are deeply committed to in British Columbia, on a level playing field where he who would impact the very essence of our homeland has the onus of proving he will do no harm or none which we whose home it is will not accept
British Columbia, my home, has been pushed around the 85+ years I have lived, worked, served, loved and, yes, loafed in her. To be called a bad Canadian because I want to protect her wild life and their habitat and don’t want to assist uncaring capitalists and their captive governments to spread ruin here and elsewhere has finally become too much
I hope you understand but that’s irrelevant, “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise.”

I somehow think those words are destined to live on. Eventually, maybe not this year, perhaps not next but, eventually, we're going to get out of this empty shell of a country where choice comes in meaningless options of Harper or Ignatieff, Trudeau or Scheer, pale suits stuffed with wet cardboard. We cannot solve the challenges of this century with leaders of their meagre calibre.

Who Knows What We Might Learn?


Alberta's outgoing premier, Rachel Notley, will table legislation permitting that province to put British Columbians under some bizarre form of petro-siege. There's sheer malevolence to it, Notley's words make that unquestionable.

Victoria says British Columbia will go to court (funny how Ottawa and Alberta aren't keen on airing these difficult legal questions in courts) to lift the siege. Notley says they've got a legal opinion that their law's a winner.

The way I see it, this is a no-win for Notley and her dutiful man/boy Trudeau and no-lose for British Columbia. Here's my thinking.

If one province in our Confederation can legally lay siege to another (I think you can see where this is going) then this rotten notion of nationhood is meaningless, a farce. That would leave British Columbia no choice but to take control of its borders, especially the one that divides us from our friends to the south. America, in case you haven't heard, is flush with gas, cheap gas, and they're looking for new markets. Cut off, under petro-siege, British Columbia would have no choice but to declare independence/sovereignty and establish some form of customs union with Uncle Samuel.

Let's go to court. Let's see what we can learn about how we're supposed to deal with rednecks and punks from Ottawa. It's time to explore our options, what's best for British Columbia. As for independence, history shows that always begins with a dream, a dream of getting out from underneath something that you can no longer abide.