Wednesday, October 31, 2012

China, the Voracious Economic Giant, Steve the Supplicant

Given how fast Stephen Harper is working behind his veil of secrecy to sell out Canada to China, this timely warning from Der Spiegel:

"I love nature," says Huang Nubo, 56, a businessman with an estimated net worth of at least $1 billion (€772 million). The founder and chairman of the Beijing Zhongkun Investment Group, Huang discovered a market niche: He builds resorts with an emphasis on sustainable design. His company benefits from the new wanderlust and "green" consciousness of the affluent Chinese upper and middle classes.

Huang has trouble understanding why his latest project is so controversial. "I'm hurt by the mistrust with which I and the entire Chinese nation were met." He is talking about Iceland and, more specifically, about an almost virgin piece of land in the northeastern part of the island, complete with waterfalls and snow-covered peaks, called Grimsstadir a Fjöllum. Huang fell in love with this wildly romantic stretch of wilderness during a visit to Iceland. He wanted to acquire 30,639 hectares (about 120 square miles) of land and invest about $200 million in the property. The plans included a 120-room hotel, a golf course and a riding facility, which could all be reached via a new airport built specifically for the site.

...Some of the public in Iceland, a NATO country, saw the potential deal as a sellout and even envisioned looming geopolitical problems. One commentator likened the entrepreneur to Dr. No, the villain of the 1962 James Bond film of the same name. Huang's party connections were brought up, to support the theory that it was merely a cover for sending an agent to Iceland. Many had their suspicions about the "noticeable" proximity of the Grimsstadir site to a deep-water port. Was this man really working for the Communist Party and planning to build a base for Chinese polar ambitions?

 ...The fears of some Icelanders may sound like paranoia, but they are not unfounded. China and its entrepreneurs are acquiring all kinds of assets all over the world, and in many cases their actions are strategic in nature, including the acquisition of farmland in Mozambique, copper mines in Afghanistan and ports in Greece. China is on a global buying spree, and it sees the current economic crisis in Europe and the United States as an historic opportunity to energetically press ahead with its offensive. The financial services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that China's so-called red capitalists spent $23.9 billion on shares in foreign companies in the first half of 2012, or three times as much as in the same period last year.

The commodities sector is a case in point. In Mid-July, the state-owned energy giant Sinopec spent $1.5 billion for almost half of Canadian company Talisman Energy's oil and gas rights in the North Sea. Almost concurrently, CNOOC, another Chinese energy giant, bought the Canadian firm Nexen for more than $15 billion. Planners in Beijing hope that these deep-water drilling specialists will help them achieve the breakthrough in industrial policy that they need to expand in the Pacific. CNOOC is the main Chinese player in oil and gas exploration in disputed waters that are also being claimed by neighbors Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Japan, with which there is even talk of possible war over the claims.

[Sany president] Xiang [Winbo] is bursting with self-confidence, but also with patriotic zeal. He was behind a nationalist Internet campaign that successfully derailed a plan by the Carlyle Group, a US private equity firm, to acquire a majority stake in his Chinese competitor, the Xugong Group. "We can sell everything, just not our country," Xiang blogged polemically at the time.

Why, then, should Germany "sell itself" to China, and why is the Putzmeister deal any different?

Xiang chuckles to himself, and answers the question in a roundabout way. "I am convinced that German industry has no choice but to join forces with major Chinese companies like Sany," says the Sany president. He explains that while Germany has the superior technologies, China controls an enormous market. German companies, he says, need that market to expand and generate profits.

We, and especially our leaders, need to understand this phenomenon.  We're in a very weakened state across the West.  We're caught in a debt trap our austerity-blinded leaders can't steer us out of.   It's going to take us years to recover.   China, quite understandably, sees this as its opportunity to transform China and, at the same time, transform us.   The transformation China envisions is permanent and genuinely global.   China is intent on becoming the developed world's "head office."

Should we be content with this?   Just as the West, particularly the United States, once siphoned assets and wealth from weaker regions of the world, China seems poised to do something quite similar to us only they're planning to scoop up more than just resources.

Despite his pretensions to be a true economist, Steve Harper is an idiot.  This guy didn't even see the crash of 2008 coming, not even as it overwhelmed the country.   He had to prorogue Parliament because he was caught so wrong-footed.   He doesn't see what China's overtures mean either and he will sell us out before we ever get to throw him and his rotten Conservative Party out.  It's telling that he's doing it in classic Beijing style - with the stroke of a pen, behind closed doors.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New York Governor, Mario Cuomo, Warns There Are More Sandys to Come

New York governor Mario Cuomo spent part of the day inspecting the subway station being restored beneath Ground Zero that was heavily flooded in the recent megastorm.

The clip doesn't seem to have made it to YouTube yet but, in the middle of the interview, Cuomo surveys the damage to the not yet restored subway station and warns that Sandy is just the start and that New York state needs to prepare for more Sandys to come as similar storm events increase in frequency and severity.

Meanwhile as Eastern Canada reels from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Steve Harper is busy in South Asia flogging bitumen sludge to India.   What a fearsome asshole we have for a prime minister.

Steve Harper's Betrayal of Canada

David Suzuki is credited with pointing out that you cannot have a healthy economy without a healthy biosphere.   The first is utterly dependent on the second.

A corollary.  If you're damaging the environment in order to inflate profits, you're actually damaging the economy also.

Suzuki's warning came to mind in a piece in today's Guardian:

In recent weeks a slew of stories has hit the news about the soaring price of food, petrol and household energy – and the financial pressure this is putting on cash-strapped households. But as politicians scrabble around for the best short-term fix, a fundamental cause underpinning much of these economic woes is often overlooked. Under the bonnet, there's something big going on: we're damaging the planet and draining its resources, and it's starting to cost us big time.

With growing confidence scientists are linking climate change to the increasingly freakish weather around the globe which is causing food prices to rise. Earlier this month the National Farmers' Union predicted more price rises when it revealed that wet weather had cut UK wheat yields by 15%.

Natural resources are not infinite and with developing economies growing fast, we're beginning to discover that there are not enough to go round...

But faced with all the evidence, no one on the political scene is showing the kind of leadership required. They prefer to squabble about short-term sticking-plaster policies, like the perennial scrap about a few pence on or off fuel duty...

The biggest problem is the chancellor, who doesn't seem to understand that in the long term you simply can't have a healthy economy without a healthy environment. By pitting the two against each other, he ignores not just the CBI – which says green and growth must go together – but cold, hard, economic reality. In claiming, contrary to the evidence, that "gas is cheap", George Osborne has become a modern day King Cnut, attempting to turn back the tide of evidence on the rising price of gas by flat out denying it – and, indeed, pushing to keep the economy hooked on the stuff. This is especially galling from a man who reportedly accuses environmental advocates of acting like the Taliban. If anything it's Osborne, with his reckless dash for gas, who wants to keep us in the dark ages.

The writing has been on the wall for years – indeed some enlightened parts of the business community have even helped write it. It's more than a decade since the Association of British Insurers warned of the impact of more frequent and more severe flooding as a result of climate change.

Bad as Britain's Conservative government is, Canada's Conservative government is an order of magnitude worse still.  As eastern Canada gets hit by this megastorm and America lays pummeled, Steve Harper is in India drumming up orders for massive amounts of Athabasca bitumen.   Steve couldn't care less about all the floods and the droughts and the storms.   His prime directive is to push the sale and consumption of the filthiest fossil fuels on the planet.   His cabinet tolerates it, so does his caucus and so does the Canadian public.   Never has Canada been more degraded and debased.

Stephen Harper doesn't care about building a healthy Canadian economy.   His sole interest is to build a fossil fuel economy for Alberta and bugger the rest of the country and its economy; bugger the world for that matter.   Our kids will pay dearly for this fiend's perfidy.

Drill, Baby, Drill

Severe storm events of increasing frequency and intensity.

That has been one of the core predictions we've been getting, and largely ignoring, from the climate science community for the past several years.

They keep telling us.   We keep ignoring them.   Must mine bitumen, must mine bitumen.

Now, thanks to fracking, America has discovered a bountiful reserve of conventional oil.   The U.S. is poised to blow past Saudi Arabia to become the biggest oil producer on the planet.   And, let's not forget about all that natural gas, supposedly enough to meet America's entire energy needs for more than a century.   With hydrocarbons like these, who needs alternative, clean energy?   Windmills, schwindmills!

The Americans are now even talking about exporting oil.   That seems a bit farfetched given that, even with its newfound production, Americans will still be reliant on some petroleum imports presumably including Canadian.  But who knows?

And, with that pesky ice rapidly vanishing from the Arctic, there may be vast oil resources there to exploit too.   Just imagine.

Imagine, yeah.   Imagine what's been going on the past few years.  Once in a century floods.   Once in a century droughts.   Once in a century megastorms.  Or at least we like to think they're "once in a century" if only because that carries some assurance we won't be seeing them again in our lifetimes.

But maybe they're not "once in a century" at all.   Maybe they're the new normal.   Maybe we'll be sent reeling from these catastrophic events once a decade or once every few years or once every other year.

So, how does all this new energy wealth fit in with that?   This energy, oil or gas, is nothing more than safely buried hydrocarbons brought to the surface to be burned and introduced to the atmosphere.   And if, as the climate types have finally convinced almost all of us, this sort of activity results in the severe storm events we've been experiencing of late, then presumably burning up all that new found carbon energy isn't going to make anything any better for life here on the surface - that means you.

Have you ever thought of what life, your life, is going to be like if we have megadroughts, like the one that's still going on in the mid-west and may linger through into next year's growing season, on a regular basis.   Forget about the economic loss, what happens to our foodstocks?

People don't like to hear this but anthropologists like Jared Diamond who have explored the collapse of past civilizations find that it's rarely a gradual process of decline.  That's why they describe it as "collapse."

Civilizations are, by their very nature, complex, intricate and, for all their prowess, remarkably vulnerable.  In part that results from assumptions that what obtained in the past will prevail into the future.  Past experience becomes the reality we project into our planning.   But if past experience is displaced by new conditions of sufficiently great impact the assumptions on which the ongoing civilization has been founded and continues to be built can fail us.

Which raises the question of why, since we have seen these impacts, the arrival of these severe storm and weather events of increasing frequency and severity; if we see the results of our already broken global hydrological cycle; why would we possibly think it's a great thing to exploit massive new sources of safely buried hydrocarbons and burn them to fuel the existing threat to our very civilization?

How did we become so childlike, so accepting of the most obvious contradictions and inconsistency, so unwilling to connect the dots?  I used to think we were succumbing to Andean fatalism but I was wrong.   The Andean mountain people don't delude themselves about the chance of being taken out in massive slides, they just reconcile themselves to their fate.   We're entirely different from them.   We know that it's not the mountain that's going to kill us, it's ourselves and our ways.   And the Andeans are honest about what could likely befall them and their iffy mortality.   We can't handle that either.   We can't and we don't.

If you want to see the future, you might get a glimpse in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.   Years ago American insurers stopped writing hurricane coverage, not just in Florida or the Gulf States, but all along the Eastern Seaboard and well inland right up to the Canadian border.   In other words, a lot of the damage and losses you'll be watching on your TV screens will be uninsured, uninsurable.   That will change a lot of lives.   There are people who can bear that hit "once in a century" maybe.   But there's only so much anybody can take.

Drill, baby, drill.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Rape-Happy States of America

I stumbled upon this in the comments section of another blog, did a bit of searching, and found out it is true - in more than half of the American states, a rapist can sue for custody or visitation rights.  31 in fact.

In the wake of Todd Akin's comments about pregnancy rarely resulting from "legitimate rape," lawyer Shauna Prewitt highlights a reality for women in that situation in a column on CNN: In a majority of states, attackers are afforded the same rights as other fathers. 

Prewitt, herself a rape survivor who gave birth to a daughter as a result of her attack, explains that  31 states have no laws that bar rapists from seeking custody or visitation rights. For Prewitt that astounding fact is personal. Her rapist attempted to get custody of her daughter, "but thankfully I got lucky and his visitation rights were terminated," she said, according to a profile of her by The Am Law Daily's Brain Baxter. She added: "I'm not sure I would have made the decision I did had I known I might be tethered to my rapist for the rest of my life."

A Nation Chock Full of Crazy People

Looking at the United States today or at least the Tea Party half of it is like sneaking into an old-time carnival Freak Show.   There is a big chunk of the American population seriously detached from reality and some of those actually ran for the Republican presidential nomination - you know who I'm talking about Michelle, you too Newt.   There are plenty more, crazy people like Inhofe, Akins and Mourdock looking for seats in Congress and a good many of them will win.   In today's America, being crazy is no bar to success, none whatsoever.

The crazy bowl may be full to the brim but there's always room for just one more.   This time he's anti-gay Christian leader John McTernan.    Pastor John knows why America is getting hammered by Hurricane Sandy.   God is punishing the country for its tolerance of homosexuality.

“God is systematically destroying America” as punishment for the “homosexual agenda.”

“Both candidates are pro-homosexual and are behind the homosexual agenda. America is under political judgment and the church does not know it,” McTernan wrote on his website.

McTernan also uses religion in his attempt to rationalize why the storm is hitting now, explaining that it’s been 21 years since the “perfect storm” hit New England in 1991.
“21 years breaks down to 7 x 3, which is a significant number with God. Three is perfection as the Godhead is three in one while seven is perfection.”

Crazy?   Hell yeah, batshit crazy and, in America, you can take that shit straight to the bank.

Chris Hedges Votes Green - For the Same Reasons You Should Too

Chris Hedges has declared his choice for the upcoming American elections.   He's voting Green.   You should too.   Here's why.

"The November election is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats. It is not a battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. It is a battle between the corporate state and us. And if we do not immediately engage in this battle we are finished, as climate scientists have made clear. I will defy corporate power in small and large ways. I will invest my energy now solely in acts of resistance, in civil disobedience and in defiance. Those who rebel are our only hope."

You just can't put it any plainer than that.   Hedges is right.   Certainly in his homeland but also in Canada it's time to take the tough decision whether to back corporatist politics or stand for your country and people.

Sandy May Cut the Big Apple a Huge Break

It looks as though Hurricane Sandy may arrive in New York City well before high tide.   That would be a huge break for the Big Apple.   High tides magnify storm surge flooding driven by powerful onshore winds.   In a city with vast underground infrastructure and so many low-lying, even beneath sea level, areas, a high tide storm surge would be nightmarish.

There Are Whistleblowers, Then There's This Guy

Kostas Vaxevanis has blown the whistle on the rich and powerful in his country and he's been arrested and hauled into court for it in what could turn into an astonishing showdown in a country that is a powderkeg of pent up resentment just looking for a spark.

Vaxevanis is the editor of a Greek weekly, Hot Doc, that just published the names of what it claims are the 2,000 biggest tax evaders in the country.   He was giving a radio interview when the cops tracked him down and hauled him away.

His defenders say the government is trying to hide the truth that it had the list for two years and did nothing because the names include prominent members of the country's business and political elites.

"If anyone is accountable before the law then it is those ministers who hid the list, lost it and said it didn't exist. I only did my job. I am a journalist and I did my job," Vaxevanis said in the video sent to Reuters news agency.

The case has triggered a parliamentary inquiry and could provide the basis for prosecutions at a time of rising radicalism on both left and right and a sense of injustice over the widespread destitution and despair created by Greece's economic crisis set against the relative impunity of the country's rich, who have a long history of tax evasion.

George Papaconstantinou, a former finance minister, said the Greek tax authorities had failed to act on the list because they were afraid of confronting the country's elite tax evaders. He also claimed that the affair brought to light only a small part of a massive tax evasion problem that was part of what he described as a "broken and corrupt system".

One Alberta Government Too Many

One thing that grates on plenty of British Columbians is that Canada has two Alberta governments, one too many.   We have a provincial Alberta government that sits in Edmonton and a federal Alberta government that sits in Ottawa.

The Alberta government in Ottawa does things the provincial Alberta government can't do.   It signs treaties with China for example.   Only the federal Alberta government could put a loaded pistol in Beijing's hand and invite them to hold it to the heads of the people and province of British Columbia should they dare stand against the environmental rape of their land and coastline by Alberta bitumen.

Once you see both Alberta governments, provincial and federal, what Ottawa is doing for Edmonton becomes logical, ordered and even sensible in a fiendish sort of way.   Nobody needs to see this state of affairs more clearly than the people of British Columbia, especially those who elected so many Conservative MPs in the last election.   Once we see that these B.C. Tories are actually serving the federal Alberta government I expect we'll be a hell of a lot less inclined to re-elected the bastards.

It's easy out here to see Harper's China tar deal as "economic treason" (as Andrew Nikiforuk terms it) yet it must look like anything but treason to either of our Alberta governments.  And there's the rub.

We can't win this politically.   When the provincial Alberta government and the federal Alberta government pile on, we don't stand a chance.   When they add mighty China to their pile for extra heft we probably won't be able to even breathe.

It's sad to know that the rest of Canada doesn't have the sand to stand up to these Alberta governments but they're conveniently lined up with their alms bowls for their share of the action.   Ontario, for example, is in line to receive many times more bounty out of the Northern Gateway than British Columbia is to receive.   Having federal and a provincial Alberta governments can make that sort of stuff happen.

The stage is set for a pretty interesting confrontation between the province and people of British Columbia in one corner and the massed power of both Alberta governments, China and their spineless minion premiers from the rest of Canada.   Anyone who can't see that as a recipe for west coast separatism?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Robert Reich Warns Progressives - We Can't Give Up

There are plenty of us who get frustrated and discouraged and even wonder why bother?   Robert Reich says that's the certain path to a truly regressive future.   He's speaking to American voters but the message applies to us all.

This is for those of you who consider yourself to be progressive but have given up on politics because it seems rotten to the core. You may prefer Obama to Romney but don’t think there’s a huge difference between the two, so you may not even vote.

Your cynicism is understandable. But cynicism is a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you succumb to it, the regressives who want to take this nation back to the 19th century win it all.

The Koch brothers, Karl Rove, the rabid Republican right, CEOs and Wall Street titans who want to entrench their privileges and tax advantages – all of them would like nothing better than for every progressive in America to throw in the towel. 

Then America is entirely theirs.

The alternative to cynicism is to become more involved in politics. Help create a progressive force in this nation that grows into a movement that can’t be stopped.

He's right.   Canadians too need to create a progressive force that can't be stopped.   There are so many places we can begin.  One of them must be the reformation of the Liberal Party away from the conservative-lite posture they adopted under Ignatieff.   If they can't move back well to the left, perhaps the time has come to simply end the farce.

Maybe we need to toss in all the chips and start over.  Scrap the Liberal/NDP party distinctions that have divided us to only Harper's real benefit.   Perhaps we need to build a new party, from the ground up.   The NDP could argue why should they when they're now the Official Opposition.   Yet any honest dipper would admit that the party itself changed, itself went to the right, became a new liberal party, to get there.   In the process today's NDP jettisoned the NDP of the past to become a centrist party more acceptable to the Canadian public.   Clinging to an already rejected image of the past only raises unnecessary hurdles.

Let's unite the Libs and the NDP under a centre/centre-left, progressive tent.   That would also offer the true left to the formation of a new, leftwing party.

We can't give up.   There's too much at stake.   Harper must be stopped.   He has already changed Canada.   We need to act before the Harper stamp becomes permanent.

What If We'd Had Nothing Better Than Harper and Hillier in 1812?

For years I've been something of student of the history of the War of 1812.   On the wall behind me are buttons from the great battles of that war including Queenston Heights, Lundy's Lane and Crysler's Farm.   Buttons from the 8th (Kings), the 41st Foot, Brock's own 49th Regiment of Foot, the Canadian Militia and other units.  On a bookcase is a Brown Bess bayonet recovered from the battlefield and other militaria.   Various Royal Engineers earthworks plans and sketches adorn my walls.

Unlike Stephen Harper, however, I have no interest in 200-year old triumphalism.   While the War of 1812 ensured I wasn't drafted for service in Viet Nam and while some brave Canadian regiments like the Voltigeurs fought valiantly, it was mainly a scrap between the Americans on one side and the Brits and their native allies on the other.   And it was war which is always a murderous business and never should be made a festive event as Harper has made this one.

When I watch Harper and his rank exploitation of this war from two centuries ago, I wonder if he's not drawn to it because of the way he and his commanders botched their own war, the one in Afghanistan.   Then I tried to imagine what might have been if we'd had a governor like Harper and a general like Rick Hillier back when Washington set out to conquer Canada?   A political leader as bombastic yet feckless and capricious as Harper tied to a military leader so full of hubris as Hillier almost certainly would have been easy meat for the American invaders.  

And I might well have been drafted to fight in Viet Nam.

Harper's Pipes May Be Backing Up

There are signs that the fight for the coast may have new impetus.

As reported recently in the Associated Press, the United States could soon come into a bounty of oil.   Part of it comes from newly discovered reserves, part from the Gulf of Mexico and a huge new source from oil released by fracking.

There could be so much oil to be tapped in the United States that some, such as the conservative Manhattan Institute forecast new found national wealth from oil exports.

The United States, Canada, and Mexico are awash in hydrocarbon resources: oil, natural gas, and coal. The total North American hydrocarbon resource base is more than four times greater than all the resources extant in the Middle East. And the United States alone is now the fastest-growing producer of oil and natural gas in the world.

The recent growth in hydrocarbons production has already generated hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in local tax receipts by unlocking billions of barrels of oil and natural gas in the hydrocarbon-dense shales of North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and several other states, as well as the vast resources of Canada’s oil sands.

It is time to appreciate the staggering potential economic and geopolitical benefits that facilitating the development of these resources can bring to the United States. It is no overstatement to say that jobs related to extraction, transport, and trade of hydrocarbons can awaken the United States from its economic doldrums and produce revenue such that key national needs can be met—including renewal of infrastructure and investment in scientific research.

Harper and Redford will be in for some sleepless nights as the Americans talk about whether they even need the Keystone XL bitumen pipeline.

The Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL is the most visible and highly charged part of that pipeline system restructuring, even though critics are now questioning the logic of building an import pipeline when the industry is increasingly focused on exports.

The industry's growing interest in exporting U.S. oil stems from a dramatic and unexpected surge in domestic light, sweet crude production that has boosted this country's oil production to more than 6.6 million barrels per day, its highest level since 1995, according to federal data.

The flood of crude has caused a wholesale reversal of thinking within the industry, triggering predictions across the political spectrum that the United States could become not only energy self-sufficient but also a major oil exporter whose output could rival Saudi Arabia's.

The bad news for British Columbia is that any weakening of the American market for Athabasca sludge will only heighten the desperation of Harper, Redford, Enbridge and Big Oil to drive through the Northern Gateway pipeline.   That would mean a far tougher, potentially much uglier fight to stop it.

Mass Evacuation Ordered for NYC

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered as many as 375,000 New Yorkers to head for the hills before the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.

At a press conference Sunday, Michael Bloomberg said some 375,000 people in a number of coastal areas including Coney Island, lower Manhattan and parts of the Queens neighbourhood would need to leave their homes. He said those affected would have to stay with family and friends outside of the evacuation area or at one of the 72 shelters the city has set up.

Officials in New York have also ordered the closure of its public transportation system, beginning at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, causing problems for those trying to leave the affected area on buses and subways.

"There really is a timeline when if you don’t get there before they stop, you’re going to have to find other ways to get out," Bloomberg said. He added that those who stay behind are putting their own lives at risk as well as those of any emergency personnel if they need to enter the affected areas.

Greek Madness

Austerity-bludgeoned Greece has a society teetering on collapse.  It is a country headed by a government gone mad.

Even as, "doctors in Athens hospitals are handling only emergencies, bus drivers are on strike, schools are still short of textbooks and thousands of state employees are demonstrating against their dismissal,"  Greek leaders talk openly about inking more than ten billion Euros in contracts for warplanes, ships, and other weaponry if the next 80-billion Euros in bailout monies arrives.

The new austerity programme that Greece's government has announced leaves hardly a Greek unscathed. Unless, that is, he works for the military or for the armaments industry.

In 2010 Greece’s budget for the military was almost seven billion euros. That is about three percent of its economic output, a figure surpassed among NATO countries only by the United States. The Ministry of Defence did, however, cut its arms procurement in 2011 by €500 million. But all this will mean, believes an arms trade expert, is that future needs will be all the higher.

Channeling the Spirit of Posterity, Long Dead

For the five or six years this blog has existed I have strongly lamented the demise of posterity in our societies, our economies and  our politics.   In an era in which any perceived fetter on maximized production and maximized consumption was denounced as heretical, posterity was irrelevant, valueless or worse.

Rejecting posterity has come at an enormous price, not to us but to generations that will follow.   We have taken advantage of everything we could exploit and kicked the consequences down the road wherever possible.   Apparently the Europeans have been little different.

"Interestingly, the sheltered existence [today's economic, intellectual and political elite] led, enjoying prosperity and security, wasn’t of their own making. Merkel and Cameron, like former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder and ex-British PM Tony Blair before them, inherited it from their predecessors – and turned out to have been but an efficient “consumer cooperative”, as Zygmunt Bauman puts it, consuming the fruits of somebody else’s work and basking in the glow of successes that weren’t theirs.

Europe was created and built by a generation for which a tragic past – embodied by Auschwitz – had been a living experience. The European Union’s founding fathers – Konrad Adenauer, Robert Schumann or Alcide De Gasperi – understood that only by working together could they build something lasting and good. European solidarity proved a blessing.

Today’s ruling elites lived in entirely different conditions, enjoying security, peace, and systematic improvement in living standards. This was the effect of building a reasonable welfare state. How is it that after such a spectacular success Europe is experiencing today what is perhaps an equally spectacular fiasco? It’s because of the present elites’ belief that they simply inherited the EU from their predecessors, rather than having it on loan for their children. The mentality and spirit of the people leading Europe today can be summed up thus: “Let’s enjoy life as much as we can because soon the EU will be just a memory”.

What is Europe’s greatest, most burning issue today? We see it in the streets and squares of our cities. “We have the right to vote, but we have no work!” cry the young unemployed. We have a democracy, but no bread or homes. A precariat is emerging in front of our very eyes. What sort of people does it consist of? An apt and curt answer is given by Guy Standing, author of The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class: virtually everyone. At its core are young people.

Disdain for posterity is readily seen.  It can be seen in the increasing gap between rich and poor, in inequality of wealth, income and opportunity.  It can be seen in the weakening of the middle class, the essential engine that generates opportunity for future generations.  It can be seen in the carefully sculpted austerity measures the Right favours and, where it can, imposes.   It can be seen in our utter indifference to environmental degradation of all descriptions.   It can be seen in the obscene debts we amass even as the richest of the rich amass obscene wealth.

We are laying the foundations for unrest that can lead to upheaval, revolt.  If the young are the "New Dangerous Class" they are of our own making.

The Grey Hair & Blue Rinse Crowd Take to the Field

We're here, maybe not queer, but you are going to have to live with it.

I attended the local "Defend Our Coast" rally this week outside our local MLA's office.   It wasn't a protest directed at the MLA but a demonstration of our views and determination to stop bitumen trafficking on the British Columbia coast.

Even for my little town we got out better than 200-people, a damned fine showing given it was in the middle of the work week.  I mingled with the crowd and was struck by their commitment to seeing this stopped - entirely and for good.   This anger was coming from the Grey Hair & Blue Rinse crowd, not normally known for activism.   Yet there was this palpable sense that this was different, this time there was a line in the sand that was not going to be crossed.  

Imagine the optics of busloads of Geezers'n Grannies being hauled off to jails by Harper's minions.   Masses of lifetime law-abiding citizens standing up and silently saying "enough, no more, this ends here."

It was encouraging to read an item from Le Monde about the role being played by Spanish grannies and grandads where the "abuelos" are said to have 'emerged as a pillar of strength in a faltering society.'

And we may just have a surprise in store for Stephen Harper, one he probably dreads.   We may be able to seize the narrative this time.  Harper and Redford and Big Oil can howl that we're obstructing progress, impairing the national interest.   Yawn.  We can counter that this is really about defending our coast against the demonstrated and extensive perfidy of the Tar Sanders and their minions.   Harper's record of gutting our environmental protections, firing our defenders and monitors, 'fixing' the environmental review mechanisms let us take the narrative from him.

That's why we'll show up and keep showing up - not to obstruct something but to defend something, something that is ours alone.  That's the sort of thing the Grey Hair & Blue Rinse crowd can get behind.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Every Rapist First Subdues His Victim

Stephen Harper has gone to great lengths to subdue the province and people of British Columbia in preparation for having his way with us against our will.

It's been methodical and relentless and every aspect of it has been marked by three telltales - they've all been without consultation, without our consent and against our will.   It's political rape of an entire province by a brutal despot wielding what he perceives to be unstoppable, superior power.

Harper got the West Coast emergency oil spill centre out of the way.  He moved that to Quebec.   Without consultation, without our consent, against our will.

Harper gutted fisheries protection regulations that might have interfered with supertanker traffic.    Without consultation, without our consent, against our will.

Harper shut down entire departments of Fisheries and Oceans scientists and monitors who served to safeguard our waters, our fisheries and our marine ecology.   Without consultation, without our consent, against our will.

Harper shut down all but two of our key Coast Guard stations, slashing the safety and security of our coastal waters.  Without consultation, without our consent, against our will.

Harper is now moving to strip navigation protections.   Without consultation, without our consent, against our will.

Harper has stripped ("streamlined") environmental assessment procedures to eliminate almost certain hurdles to the Northern Gateway pipeline and Kitimat supertanker port.   Without consultation, without our consent, against our will.

Harper has gagged federal researchers and scientists, preventing them from speaking out on the perils he is crafting for British Columbia.   Without consultation, without our consent, against our will.

All this, and so much more, Harper has done or has in the works and all of it without consultation, without our consent and against our will.  It's a calculated process to subdue and overwhelm British Columbia and the majority of the public that stand in his way.  It's the precursor to the rape to follow.

Everyone is entitled to fight off a rapist.   No one is obliged to submit to violation.   The rest of Canada needs to understand that what Harper has in mind for British Columbia is nothing short of rape.   The rest of Canada, especially everybody in Alberta, needs to understand why we have to defend ourselves and our province.

America's Looming Strategic Insolvency.

"A moment has arrived when a great power with global responsibilities is having a crisis of confidence.  Its economy has grown sluggish and it is being overtaken by a number of rising competitors.   Financial pressures loom, notably the ability to keep a balance between government revenues and expenses.   It is losing long-standing superiorities psychological as well as technological and numerical in key categories of military power; this great power, whose diplomats and military leaders manage active or potential conflicts from Afghanistan to Europe with treaty alliances as far flung as Japan and Australia, confronts the need for constraints on its global ambitions and posture.   This urgent reckoning has been prompted in part by a painful and largely unnecessary counterinsurgency war far from home that cost many times more than initially thought and exhausted the country's overstretched land forces."

Sound like any nation you know?  It should but, in fact, it's Michael J. Mazarr, professor of national security strategy at the U.S. National War College, writing about Britain at the turn of the 20th century.  In his paper, "The Risks of Ignoring Strategic Insolvency," Mazarr warns that America today is walking down the same path and inviting many similar consequences.

"Despite this awareness, that insolvency was destined to hit home
during a number of key moments from the Boer War to post-war colonial crises to Suez, Britain suffered this fate in part because successive governments in London, although scaling back military and diplomatic commitments in a fashion that many commentators have found to be a masterful example of stepping back from global primacy, still could not bring themselves to make a clean break with a deeply-ingrained strategic posture and fashion a more sustainable global role.   Great Britain remained continually overextended, and suffered the drawn-out consequences." 

"...Yet the post-war U.S. approach to strategy is rapidly becoming insolvent and unsustainable not only because Washington can no longer afford it but also, crucially, because it presumes an American relationship with friends, allies, and rivals that is the hallmark of a bygone era.   If Washington continues to cling to its existing role on the premise that the international order depends upon it, the result will be increasing resistance, economic ruin, and strategic failure."

"...twenty years of warnings will finally come true over the next five to ten years, unless we adjust much more fundamentally than administrations of either party have been willing to do so far.  The forces undercutting the U.S. strategic posture are reaching critical mass."

Mazarr's paper deserves a close read.   He presents a troubling reality, depicting a nation that is not only economically but also militarily pretending to defy gravity even if only for just a handful of years longer.

Andrew Bacevich writes powerfully of this "new American militarism" and the evolution of the Permanent Warfare State.  He chronicles, in detail, the toxic union of radical rightwing ideology, radical Christian fundamentalism, the ascendancy of robotic and precision weaponry, a hypercharged military-industrial complex and the evolution of a massive, commercial "for profit" warfighting complex dominated by contractors with names like KBR, Haliburton, Blackwater and many, many others.

In this election cycle, American politicians talk at length about the "fiscal cliff" endangering their economy but glibly overlook the even more worrisome "strategic cliff" they're running toward full-bore.

Whatever the Americans do, Canada needs to recognize and respond to this crippling strategic madness that besets the United States.   Fundamental to that is keeping a healthy distance from what's going on in the Pentagon and ensuring Canada's military does not become inescapably bound to it.   And where does that begin?   By walking, no running away from the F-35 light nuclear strike bomber just as fast as we can.   Buying that airplane, saddling our military with it, is signing on to America's aerial Foreign Legion and nothing less.   It is signing on to America's strategic insolvency.   When are we going to wake up?

Sununu Can't Walk this One Back.

Romney campaign co-chair, John Sununu, is scrambling to get out from under his imprudent but pretty obviously heartfelt racist comments.

When former Bush state secretary and former US chairman of the joint chiefs Colin Powell endorsed Obama for a second term as president, he gave clear and convincing reasons for his choice.   Among them, he described Romney's vacillating foreign policy as a "moving target."  That speaks volumes for Powell's distrust of the Republican contender.

With that, former New Hampshire governor Sununu, threw out the race card.

''Frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell you have to wonder whether that's an endorsement based on issues or whether he's got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama,'' Mr Sununu told CNN.

 "A slightly different reason" is obviously code for here's one black guy siding with another black guy.   The Romney campaign felt the sting, causing Sununu to slither out an apology.

''Colin Powell is a friend and I respect the endorsement decision he made and I do not doubt that it was based on anything but his support of the President's policies,'' he said.

It is not the first time Mr Sununu has been accused of injecting the issue of race into the presidential election. In July he told reporters on a conference call that he wished Mr Obama ''would learn how to be an American'' and was forced to apologise.
Sorry, governor, but you're just another hairy racist asshole.   Even once prominent Republicans were motivated to come out and denounce Republican racism.

The Chilling Face of Greek Fascism

Greek police officers are warning that the brutal, fascist Golden Dawn movement has infiltrated their ranks.  The Guardian has prepared this disturbing look into Greece's spreading fascism.


How to Kill Democracy, the Ultimate How-To Guide

Remember when voter intimidation was considered an outrage, a threat to democracy?   That was then, this is now.

The oligarchs are moving very powerfully and relentlessly to dismantle democracy and the battleground is the Greatest Democracy on Earth (TM), the United States.

From disinformation services that spew outright falsehoods and propaganda to inculcate fear, confusion, targeted frustration and anger in an ignorant populace; to vote-rigging and the use of electronic voting technology tailor-made for manipulation; to voter ID laws that suppress minorities and the poor; to outright intimidation of working Americans by the rich and powerful, America remains a democracy in name only.

Michael Paarlberg, writing in The Guardian, reports that in America today, a "wrong" vote can cost you your job.

 Romney Stage Props Ordered to Take the Stage or Else
 A number of Romney backers took it upon themselves to spell out more clearly to their workers what "the best interest for their job" really means. David Siegel, CEO of Florida's Westgate Resorts, emailed his employees that a second term for Obama would likely give him "no choice but to reduce the size of this company". Republican donor-activists Charles and David Koch were no less subtle when they sent 45,000 employees of their Georgia Pacific paper company a list of whom to vote for, warning that workers "may suffer the consequences" if Obama is re-elected.

Florida-based ASG Software CEO Arthur Allen informed his employees that he was contemplating a merger that would eliminate "60% of the salaries" of the company – should Romney lose. In Ohio, coal mine owner Robert Murray left employees in no doubt that they were expected to attend a Romney rally – off the clock and without pay. In Cuba, at least they pay workers for show demonstrations.

...News outlets, on the other hand, are merely confused.

"Can your boss really tell you who to vote for?" asked the Atlantic incredulously, before concluding the answer is "probably yes". Should this be a surprise? Seeing that your boss can legally tell you to do nearly anything else, down to what you may wear, when you may eat and how often you may go to the bathroom (and, if he wishes, demand samples when you do), the question comes across as a little naïve. So, too, is the corollary "Can you be fired for expressing political views at work?" Again, the answer is probably yes, which should only be a shock to anyone who has never held a job in an American private-sector workplace.

In truth, as an "at-will" (that is, non-union) employee, you can be fired for much less. In Arizona, you can be fired for using birth control. If you live in any one of 29 states, you can be fired for being gay. You can be fired for being a fan of the Green Bay Packers if your boss roots for the Bears

Lest you think employer authority ends when you clock out, only four states – California, Colorado, New York and North Dakota – protect workers from being fired for legal activity outside of work. For the rest, workers can and have been fired for anything from smoking to cross-dressing, all in the privacy of their homes. The growing practice of employers demanding job applicants to hand over their Facebook passwords underscores the blurring of the work-life divide in this information age.

...Brooklyn College political scientist Corey Robin sees a historical pattern:
"During the McCarthy years, the state outsourced the most significant forms of coercion and repression to the workplace. Fewer than 200 people went to jail for their political beliefs, but two out of every five American workers was investigated or subject to surveillance.
"Today, we're seeing a similar process of outsourcing. Government can't tell you how to vote, but it allows CEOs to do so."
Robin concluded:
When workers are forced to go to rallies in communist countries, we call that Stalinism. Here, we call it the free market.
This is a wake-up call for Canadians.   When will we hear any of our political leaders denouncing America's malignant democracy and calling for the sort of safeguards essential to keep this contagion from sweeping across our borders?

We're bound to be smug about this just as Americans were for more than two decades.   Yet we need to realize what is happening today is the inevitable result of corporatism, the merger of corporate and political power, the phenomenon Mussolini defined as "fascism."

Friday, October 26, 2012

As If You Need Another Reason to Despise the Harper Government

One of the most odious and blatantly theocratic affronts perpetrated by the Harper regime is its fierce opposition to physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill.

Team Harper is now before the B.C. Court of Appeal seeking to overturn a decision in June that struck down the government prohibition on doctor-assisted suicide.

The Harper regime's arguments are the standard, vacuous pap:  this is a decision that only government can take and allowing assisted suicide would put vulnerable people at risk of being coerced or even forced to end their lives.


Oregon has a decade of experience with physician-assisted suicide under the state's Death With Dignity Act.   Oregon's system incorporates multiple safeguards to prevent the very abuses that lurk within Harper's dark fantasies.   The Oregon experience was scrutinized by Eastern Michigan University prof J.M. Dieterle.

Dr. Dieterle found no evidence whatsoever of either involuntary or non-voluntary euthenasia occuring in Oregon.   Nothing, nada, zip.

The important point to bear in mind is that the terminally ill who go through Oregon's elaborate process merely receive a prescription for a life-ending drug.  They are under no obligation to fill the prescription nor are they required, if it is filled, to take the drug.

What flows from this is that many of the terminally ill never fill the prescription and, of those who do, many never take the drug.   They find, instead, they are able to meet death without it.  In essence, having the prescription or having the drug at hand merely eases the anxiety of facing death knowing that, should their ordeal become truly unbearable, they can be relieved of it.   That is what Harper wants to deny the terminally ill - the right to die without fear and the right to a humane death without unbearable suffering.  That is what Harper cannot abide.

Even Albertans Don't Want Chinese Ownership of the Tar Sands

The China Institute of the University of Alberta has released a poll showing that Albertans, by better than a two to one margin, oppose investments in the province's fossil fuel resources by Chinese state-owned companies.   And it's 64% against and just 15% for Chinese investments that amount to total ownership of oil and gas resources.

It seems like Albertans think one authoritarian government stirring up their tar is plenty.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

New York Braces for Frankenstorm

New York City is now squarely in the crosshairs of Hurricane Sandy.   The NOAA has updated its hurricane track to predict Sandy may slam into the Big Apple on Tuesday morning.

The unique nature of the storm is its scariest aspect. From the National Weather Service :


Mayor Bloomberg has warned New Yorkers to be prepared for an evacuation.

In August, Bloomberg issued New York's first ever mandatory evacuation order to clear out flood prone parts of the city and shut down its subways.


The Evil Face of the Republican Party

From AlterNet -

The End of the Road for Mitch Romney?

A Massachusetts court has unsealed the transcripts of a 20-year old divorce case between the CEO of Staples and his wife that could spell the end of Mitch Romney's chances to become America's next president.

AlterNet has the transcripts and is poring over them right now.

At issue is whether Romney lied to the court about the value of the husband's shares in Staples.   It's alleged that Romney gave evidence under oath to mislead the court into finding the shares were worth far less than their actual value.   Then after the wife had been left high and dry, Romney and his Staples buddy are said to have both flogged their shares at Goldman Sachs for a fortune.

A Canadian Tests America's Citizens United Decision

Meet Canadian businessman, V. Prem Watsa.   He's the founder, CEO, Chairman and 45% shareholder of Fairfax Financial, a Canadian insurance and investment management company.  Fairfax, in turn, owns a Connecticut reinsurance company, OdysseyRe, where Watsa is also Chairman of the Board.

OdysseyRe recently donated $1-million to Restore Our Future, a SuperPac supporting Mitch Romney.   The U.S. Supreme Court's controversial decision in Citizens United seems to make this sort of donation just dandy.   Except the U.S. also has a law prohibiting any foreign national from directly or indirectly  contributing money to influence U.S. elections.

The sticky question is whether an Canadian-owned and controlled U.S. subsidiary corporation is free to throw money into an election to help swing the outcome?   If so, can the Chinese get in on this action?   The possibilities seem endless.

Smoking Pot is Really Bad for You Except When It's Good

Blame UCLA professor  Don Tashkin for the confusion.   Tashkin, a professor of pulmonology at the David Geffin School of Medicine, has been "the guy" on the perils of pot smoking for decades.

He was the lead investigator on studies dating back to the 1970s that identified the compounds in marijuana smoke that are toxic. It was Tashkin who published photomicrographs showing that marijuana smoke damages cells lining the upper airways. It was the Tashkin lab reporting that benzpyrene -- a component of tobacco smoke that plays a role in most lung cancers -- is especially prevalent in marijuana smoke. It was Tashkin's data documenting that marijuana smokers are more likely than non-smokers to cough, wheeze and produce sputum. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse supported Tashkin's marijuana-related research over the decades and gave him a grant to conduct a large, population-based, case-controlled study that would prove definitively that heavy, long-term marijuana use increases the risk of lung and upper-airways cancers. What Tashkin and his colleagues found, however, disproved their hypothesis.

Tashkin and his researchers found that for all the coughing, wheezing and sputum horking, the Demon Weed slightly inhibits lung cancer and cancerous tumors.

Tashkin noted that an anti-proliferative effect of THC has been observed in cell-culture systems and animal models of brain, breast, prostate, and lung cancer. THC has been shown to promote known apoptosis (damaged cells die instead of reproducing) and to counter angiogenesis (the process by which blood vessels are formed -- a requirement of tumor growth). Other antioxidants in cannabis may also be involved in countering malignancy, Tashkin said.

Much of Tashkin's talk at Asilomar was devoted to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, another condition prevalent among tobacco smokers. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are two forms of COPD, which is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Air pollution and tobacco smoke are known culprits. Inhaled pathogens cause an inflammatory response, resulting in diminished lung function. COPD patients have increasing difficulty clearing the airways as they get older.

Tashkin and colleagues at UCLA conducted a major study in which they measured lung function of various cohorts over eight years and found that tobacco-only smokers had an accelerated rate of decline, but marijuana smokers -- even if they smoked tobacco as well -- experienced the same rate of decline as non-smokers. "The more tobacco smoked, the greater the rate of decline," said Tashkin. "In contrast, no matter how much marijuana was smoked, the rate of decline was similar to normal." Tashkin concluded that his and other studies "do not support the concept that regular smoking of marijuana leads to COPD."

This research came out in 2005 but the findings were simply overlooked by the media.

Today's Chuckles from the Times-Colonist

Big story in this morning's Times-Colonist headlined "Severed head found in Edmonton alley; link to body probed."   Apparently the Edmonton police are trying to figure out if there's any possible connection between the head recovered from a dumpster and a headless body found around the same time in a ditch.   Must probe...

And a Montreal bureaucrat is roundly scolded for saying it wasn't his job to report corruption he witnessed at City Hall.   This same guy, retired city engineer Gilles Surprenant had earlier admitted pocketing $600,000 from rigged contracts.   Surprenant excused himself, saying:  "I'm not a villain.  I am a civil servant who has been corrupted."  Gilles seems to think it was the contractors' fault for waving all that money under his nose.   Must probe...

Wait a Minute! I Thought Buddhists Were Pacifists.

Turns out that Buddhists are quite ready to drop the gloves when it comes to Muslims muscling in on their turf.

Riots have been sweeping western Burma lately.   A few deaths have resulted in the latest unrest, Muslim and Buddhist, and a thousand homes are said to have been burned.   Four months ago, 90-were killed and 3,000 homes destroyed.

Will this Setback the Future of Altnerative Energy in the U.S.?

Drill, baby, drill.   We've heard of America's natural gas bounty realized by extensive fracking.   Overlooked, however, is the success of fracking in U.S. oil production.   The Associated Press reports the United States may soon become the world's top oil producer.

U.S. oil output is surging so fast that the United States could soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's biggest producer.

Driven by high prices and new drilling methods, U.S. production of crude and other liquid hydrocarbons is on track to rise 7 percent this year to an average of 10.9 million barrels per day. This will be the fourth straight year of crude increases and the biggest single-year gain since 1951.

The boom has surprised even the experts.

...The United States will still need to import lots of oil in the years ahead. Americans use 18.7 million barrels per day. But thanks to the growth in domestic production and the improving fuel efficiency of the nation's cars and trucks, imports could fall by half by the end of the decade.

...The major factor driving domestic production higher is a newfound ability to squeeze oil out of rock once thought too difficult and expensive to tap. Drillers have learned to drill horizontally into long, thin seams of shale and other rock that holds oil, instead of searching for rare underground pools of hydrocarbons that have accumulated over millions of years.

Two things seem likely from America's petroleum bonanza.   With a declining dependence on imported oil there'll be less pressure on American governments to move toward alternative energy.   And that same declining dependence on imported oil will (probably already has) sent alarm bells ringing from the Prime Minister's Office to the Alberta legislature, increase pressure to push the Northern Gateway through and up the chances of a showdown between Ottawa and British Columbia.

The Impoverishing States of America

Hard times for the working man, indeed.  We're familiar with statistics showing working class wages have stagnated, even declined somewhat, since Reagan waved his wand across the U.S. but it seems the figures we've been given are actually pretty rosey.

This finding of stagnant wages is unsettling, but also quite misleading. For one thing, this statistic includes only men who have jobs. In 1970, 94 percent of prime-age men worked, but by 2010, that number was only 81 percent. The decline in employment has been accompanied by increases in incarceration rates, higher rates of enrollment in the Social Security Disability Insurance program and more Americans struggling to find work. Because those without jobs are excluded from conventional analyses of Americans’ earnings, the statistics we most commonly see — those that illustrate a trend of wage stagnation — present an overly optimistic picture of the middle class.

When we consider all working-age men, including those who are not working, the real earnings of the median male have actually declined by 19 percent since 1970. This means that the median man in 2010 earned as much as the median man did in 1964 — nearly a half century ago. Men with less education face an even bleaker picture; earnings for the median man with a high school diploma and no further schooling fell by 41 percent from 1970 to 2010.

And, of course, the question becomes how did the working classes tolerate this decline?   Why didn't they take to the streets with pitchforks and torches?   Well peace was maintained by a conjuring act made up of equal parts real estate bubble and cheap (and tax deductible) mortgage financing.   This created a powerful perception of wealth that, as many Americans finally realize, was all smoke and mirrors.

They're a good ways off still but some day the American people will realize the stark truth - that today's radical right has facilitated the greatest unearned and undeserved transfer of wealth in their country's history, gutting the middle class to engorge the richest of the rich.   Today the radical right remains reasonably successful at persuading many of its victims to blame themselves for their plight, for their loss of jobs, income and opportunity.    That won't last forever, it can't.

Colin Powell Endorses Obama

Former Bush secretary of state and former chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, Colin Powell, is endorsing Barack Obama for a second term as president.

Powell said Obama is on the right track in winding down the Afghan war and fighting terrorism.

Powell criticized Romney's foreign policy as inconsistent and questioned the former Massachusetts governor's ability to tackle the deficit and looming defense cuts.

"I'm not quite sure which Governor Romney we'd be getting with respect to foreign policy," Powell said, calling Romney's foreign policy "a moving target."

As for the U.S. budget, he added: "It's essentially, let's cut taxes and compensate for that with other things, but that compensation does not cover all the cuts intended or the expenses associated with defense."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

TMZ Outs the Mormonstrosity

Gossip shop, TMZ, says Mitch Romney may have lied under oath in a divorce trial to help a buddy and screw that buddy's wife out of big bucks.

Mitt Romney LIED under oath when he testified in the divorce of his good friend and screwed the friend's wife out of a lot of money in the process ... so claims the ex-wife of Staples' founder Tom Stemberg.

Multiple sources connected with the divorce tell TMZ ... during Tom's uber nasty divorce case with ex-wife Maureen, Mitt Romney gave a deposition and testified during the trial that Staples was worth virtually nothing. Romney testified that the company was worth very little and Tom was a dreamer and "the dream continues."

Romney characterized the Staples stock as "overvalued," adding, "I didn't place a great deal of credibility in the forecast of the company's future."

Partly as a result of Romney's testimony, Maureen got relatively little in the divorce, but we're told just weeks after the divorce ended, Romney and Tom went to Goldman Sachs and cashed in THEIR stock for a fortune.  Short story -- Romney allegedly lied to help his friend and screw the friend's wife over.

 And there's more ...  Our sources say years later, Maureen, who suffered from MS and had multiple bouts with cancer, got a visit from one of Tom's guys, who gave her papers informing her that Tom was cancelling her health insurance.  Our sources say the irony here is that we're told Tom was working as one of then Governor Mitt Romney's chief health care advisers.

Sources tell us ... Tom also got custody of the couple's one child, making allegations of abuse against Maureen.   And get this ... in the mid-90s, after the divorce, Tom sent the boy a letter saying, although he loved him, because of issues related to the divorce "it will not be possible for you to be a part of our family for the foreseeable future."

Maureen lost her home in the process and struggled financially. 

Sounds like Maureen didn't know how to act like a good Stepford Wife, like the Mormonstrosity's.



Don't Forget, It's Mine. You May, However, Borrow Freely

I've coined a new word, Mormonstrosity, to refer to the unfit-for-prime-time, Republican presidential candidate, Mitch Romney.  My creative instincts were piqued when I read of Romney's assertion that, "Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world. It's their route to the sea. It's the route for them to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, which threatens, of course, our ally, Israel."

As this map published in HuffPo illustrates, the Mormonstrosity doesn't have a freaking clue about the Middle East.

For starters, Iraq, lies directly between Iran and Syria.   And Iran's has direct access to the Caspian Sea and, of course, the Persian Gulf which is why America has three, count'em three, carrier battle groups there.

The Mormonstrosity also seems to be completely ignorant of the fact that Iran has a navy, complete with those ship thingees that go underwater, submarines.   Now the Iranian navy obviously wouldn't stand much of a chance against the massed fleet of the world's only Permanent Warfare State.   But they're not really counting on those ships so much as they're counting on these:

These are Iran's "Triumph" anti-shipping cruise missiles, part of a family of such weapons that are considered highly effective and easily capable of shutting down the Persian Gulf, especially the oil tanker traffic which, if disrupted, could crash the world's already wobbly economy.   They don't even have to go to sea with these things.   Fired from mobile launchers along the Gulf Coast they have plenty of range to reach out and touch everything that tries to pass.

And, while Syria may indeed be Iran's best Arab ally, the Mormonstrosity doesn't seem to understand that Iran has other, even more important allies - including newly liberated Shiite Iraq (thanks Dick Cheney), Pakistan, China and Russia.

Which brings us to the inescapable conclusion that Mitch Romney isn't fit to serve as president of the United States, not even close.

h/t LeDaro

Clark Kent Defies Corporate Media, Quits Daily Planet

Superman has had it with the corporate media.    Faced with the takeover of the Daily Planet by a conglomerate, Clark Kent has quit and may turn to blogging instead.

"Why am I the one sounding like a grizzled ink-stained wretch who believes news should be about, I don't know, news?" says a disillusioned Kent, according to a leaked panel from Wednesday's edition of the comic that appeared on the website.

New Superman writer Scott Lobdell told USA Today newspaper: "This is really what happens when a 27-year-old guy is behind a desk and he has to take instruction from a larger conglomerate with concerns that aren't really his own."

Shit Republicans Say - or Music to Rex Murphy's Ears?

Mitt Romney endorses Republican Indiana senate candidate Richard Mourdock.   And Romney isn't budging even though Mourdock contends that rape is no cause for abortion because, if the victim becomes pregnant, that's god's will.

P.S. Be sure to get out to the UBC campus to catch Rex Murphy denounce secularism.

At Least His God Has a Sense of Humour

The Newfie Screech has descended on the University of British Columbia.  Noneother than T-Rex Murphy has crossed the country to deliver a 3-part lecture at Regent College, UBC's evangelical graduate school.

Murphy will preach to the choir - three times, count'em three - about the evils of secularists, how they're all in league with those science-believing environmentalists and slaves to political correctness.

"Regent College theologian John Stackhouse and Preston Manning, founder of the Reform Party and the Alliance Party, will respond to Murphy, whose confident opinions are featured regularly in The National Post and on CBC radio and television."

"Respond to Murphy"?    With Stackhouse and Manning it sounds more like a sanctimonious Mazola Roll to me.   Murphy will use his bully pulpit, the very font of his rank hypocrisy, to attack the Left for their "orthodoxy" while nestling snugly into his own.

Do I believe in Murphy's "God"?   No.   But at least if I'm wrong and Murphy is right, it's comforting to know his God must have had one hell of a sense of humour to create someone like T-Rex.

Grounds for Divorce

Is Steve Harper trying to engineer the breakup of Canada?  That might be just what the prime ministerial bully boy accomplishes with his closet trade deal with China.

The deal, that no decent Canadian, emphasis on decent, would ever accept may be Harper's way to endow China with the leverage to coerce British Columbia into surrendering on the Northern Gateway pipeline/supertanker catastrophe in waiting.   Out here it's already being called "economic treason."

The deal apparently empowers China to sue anyone and everyone who impedes their access to Athabasca bitumen.   That, presumably, would target the people and province of British Columbia.   We would be coerced, through lawfare, to bend a knee to Beijing and Ottawa.   Harper has loaded the pistol and put it in Beijing's hand to hold to British Columbia's head.

This would also be the very last straw.   It would shred the final bonds of confederation and spark a powerful sovereignty movement in British Columbia - or worse.

If Harper is abusing Canada's sovereign powers to beset British Columbia with the excesses of a brutal, totalitarian foreign sovereign power, what choice does British Columbia have but to proclaim its own sovereignty?

And for you who think this doesn't really matter, imagine how long it would take Quebec to join British Columbia in ditching this poisoned confederation.

The Haida's Lousy Eco-Bet

Read between the lines in the financing agreement between the Haida and the North Coast Credit Union and it appears the Old Massett Village council's $2.5-million gambit was a scheme to generate lucrative carbon credits to flog on world markets.

Too bad the band council and their partner, controversial carbon credit entrepreneur, Russ George, didn't take into account the Haida eddies in their plans to dump 200,000 pounds of iron sulphate into the north Pacific waters.   Those eddies literally wash away any possible hope of gaining carbon credits for their illegal scheme.

The Haida eddies, clockwise-rotating areas of water up to 300 kilometres in diameter, are known to carry iron-rich coastal water out to sea, where there is less iron and therefore less ocean life. The eddies form off the southern tip of the island and become highly concentrated with phytoplankton and chlorophyll, which is readily visible as a “bloom” from satellites as they travel through the northeast Pacific.

But experts also say adding iron to this particular ocean region would obscure any data collected by the salmon restoration company because it would be impossible to tell if any growth in fish food — plankton — was a result of added iron or the eddies.

“If you were going to plan to do an experiment to demonstrate the impact of iron fertilization, you wouldn’t dump it into a Haida eddy, I don’t think,” said Jay Cullen, an ocean scientist who runs a lab at the University of Victoria that studies chemicals and trace metals in marine environments.

“If a group were to fertilize such a feature with iron, it would be next to impossible to determine how productivity and phytoplankton biomass was influenced by the treatment,” he said, calling it “bad scientific design.”

So this appears to be another hare-brained stunt for Russ George that may leave the Old Massett Village band stiffed with a $2.5-million headache.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Harper Government Winging It With Canada's Future

The Auditor General has slammed the Harper regime for spending tens of billions of dollars without cabinet, much less Parliament, knowing the long-term consequences.

In his fall 2012 report released Tuesday, Auditor General Michael Ferguson concluded the Department of Finance Canada often does not take into account the impact of tens of billions of dollars of spending and tax measures on the government’s long-term fiscal sustainability.
Furthermore, the lack of federal reporting about long-term economic consequences of major government decisions means parliamentarians are forced to vote blindly on some budget measures without knowing their true impact on the country’s finances, the report says.
Just hours after the auditor released his report, the Finance Department unveiled a sweeping study on the economic and fiscal implications of Canada’s aging population. It projects that a greying society will translate into slower growth for the economy and government revenues, and additional stresses on public finances.
The auditor’s report says long-term financial projections are important because Canada faces many challenges that could impact the country’s fiscal sustainability, such as changing demographics, climate change and aging infrastructure.
The Harper government promised in its 2007 budget to publish a comprehensive report on the government’s fiscal sustainability that would provide a broad analysis of current and future demographic changes, and the implications on Canada’s long-term fiscal outlook. A draft report was prepared in 2007, but it has not been published.
Moreover, the long-term fiscal sustainability analyses have been regularly prepared since 2010, but have not been made public.
In contrast, governments in several Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries have regularly published such reports.
This lack of reporting means that parliamentarians and Canadians do not have all the relevant information to understand the long-term impacts of budgets on the federal, provincial and territorial governments in order to support public debate and to hold the government to account,” the audit says.

In One-Man Rule the notion of responsible disclosure, analysis and accountability is irrelevant.   The only one who needs to know is Steve, our Ruler.   And contrary to the complaints of the Auditor-General, Steve's approach is anything but unusual in plenty of countries - take North Korea for example.

My High School Projects Were Never Like This

Hold onto your hat.   The history of everything in two minutes by Joe Bush with music by Zack Hemsey.

Defending What's Ours

 The police didn't intervene.  From the comments of Victoria's deputy police chief, Del Manak, it actually sounded as if the cops were on side with the demonstrators.  “It’s a peaceful, vocal protest and we don’t want to get in the way of sending a strong message to government.”

 Victoria police estimated the crowd size at 3,500.

There were no arrests. The protesters at the Defend Our Coast demonstration, led by Coastal First Nations, environmental groups and unions, were passionate and noisy but well-behaved.

 The aim was to send a strong message to the federal and provincial governments that British Columbians are overwhelmingly opposed to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline carrying Alberta oilsands bitumen to Kitimat for export to Asia, planned twinning of the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby and oil supertankers on the coast.

“It’s time to ‘warrior-up,’ ” hereditary Chief Pete Erickson said.

“Together, we can stop this,” said Squamish First Nations Chief Ian Campbell.
 Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said First Nations are standing shoulder-to-shoulder to stop the proposed pipelines. “We will fight this insanity through the joint review panel, in the courts of this country and, if necessary, at the barricades on the land itself,” he said.
“We will not stand down, we will not step back. We will stop Enbridge and the Kinder Morgan proposals dead in their tracks.”