Friday, August 31, 2018

Next Time, Let's Heed Precaution

The Trudeau government won't like it. They'll probably fight, fang and claw, to get around it. The only problem for the federal government is that it's the law of the land.

The law I'm referencing is the "precautionary principle." The Federal Court of Appeal quashed Ottawa's approval of the Trudeau Memorial TransMountain Pipeline on two grounds - inadequate consultation with First Nations and a total lack of consideration of what it would mean to coastal British Columbia.

In other words, Mr. Trudeau has been told that he can no longer slough off the dissent of various First Nations and what happens after all that diluted bitumen reaches tidewater must be evaluated.

The feds have focused on driving their pipeline to "tidewater" in Burnaby.  Past that they've relied on outright lies and deception. Their critics cite a variety of concerns in some aspects similar to but often far, far worse than bitumen spill problems ashore.

Among these perils are getting heavily laden, wallowing supertankers through the treacherous currents of the Second Narrows, on past the Vancouver/North Vancouver waterfront (Canada's busiest sea port), under the First Narrows (Lions Gate) and out through English Bay. It only takes one mishap to cause catastrophic loss to that waterway and the adjacent municipalities.

Then there's getting those vessels through the Salish Sea, the Georgia Strait, the Straight of Juan de Fuca and out into international waters.  Again, plenty of opportunity for lasting ecological catastrophe.

What mishaps? The most common are collisions with other ships, engine failure, loss of steerage, fire and grounding on rocky projections, often in stormy seas that can play havoc with a lumbering, heavily loaded supertanker.

Now our less than honest prime minister (hey, remember that "social licence" bullshit?) will assure us there's no problem. Don't worry, be happy. In fact the only people who are going to be happy about this expanded tanker traffic will be sitting in boardrooms in Calgary or in the legislature in Edmonton and in Parliament. They'll unload all this risk, free of charge, on the people of coastal British Columbia.

The prime minister will chime on about Canada's "world class" spill response. That amounts to six or nine piddling boats bobbing in Nanaimo harbour that can deploy oil scavenging booms - in calm seas.

Both the Royal Society of Canada and Trudeau's own Environment Canada state that no one knows what happens to dilbit spilled into the ocean. What is known is that it breaks down with the lighter oil, the diluent, heading to the surface and the remainder, the bitumen, heading to the bottom.

British Columbia wants to conduct research into dilbit spills. The federal and Alberta governments won't hear of it. Their outrage speaks volumes. What speaks even louder is Environment Canada's approval of the use of Corexit as a supposed oil dispersant. Corexit, which has poisoned marine ecology and spill response crews from the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is nothing but an admission the government knows it can't clean up a dilbit spill in British Columbia coastal waters.

If they don't trash the port of Vancouver and lower mainland municipal waterfronts or the coastal fisheries and marine environment in the Salish Sea and Georgia Strait, there's the enhanced risk of injury or death to the already endangered southern resident Orca population.

Which brings us back to the precautionary principle and the as yet unconsidered onus it places on the federal government. The principle is roughly stated as follows:
"The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states 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 the action. ...The principle implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk. These protections can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that provide sound evidence that no harm will result."
"Sound evidence" - i.e. not just Trudeau's word for it. He says they've "done the science" but the feds have never produced it. Why not? Because he's lying, pulling it straight out of his backside. If he had it he would have produced it a long time ago to quell the critics. Only both the Royal Society and Environment Canada maintain the science he purports to have is non-existent.

In 2015, the Federal Court of Canada upheld the precautionary principle as part of the substantive law of our country. The Supreme Court of Canada has also applied the precautionary principle. Whether Trudeau likes it or not, it's the law and it sets the test he and this pipeline project must meet. Naturally that wasn't a factor in the rigged process the Federal Court of Appeal quashed earlier this week. It will be an issue in the rematch when the coastal questions finally will be heard and it's a hurdle the feds won't be able to duck this time around.

Trudeau and the Schoolyard Bully - Who Will Get Canada's Lunch Money?

I spent some of the afternoon mulling over Maude Barlow's contention that the loss of a formal trade treaty with America or, for that matter, America and Mexico, would be a very reasonable price to pay for restoring Canadian sovereignty.

Then I read this headline for a piece in Foreign Policy. The article is by someone I don't particularly like, Jonathan Kay, but I had to agree with the headline, "
Justin Trudeau Can’t Take Any More Humiliation 
Unless Canada’s prime minister strikes a trade deal on his own terms, Donald Trump’s bullying won't stop.
Trump wants either a trade war or trade capitulation. Even he doesn't hide that. He positively glories in it. America and the world, even America's best friends, are engaged in an endless net sum game in which America can only prevail by diminishing even its very best friends (out of a rapidly growing breadth of enemies).

I listened to Trump at some rally or appearance self-glorifying for his mastery, and his ability to quell (humiliate) the young, boyish and pretty Justin. Seriously, folks. Trump is on some sadosexual mindbender these days.

Jonathan Kay focuses on the most vexing problem in negotiating with today's American government, the inveterate bully in the White House who will jettison his nation's goodwill and support for his self-gratification with the Gullibillies.

While Freeland and her team have shown admirable professionalism in the face of Trump’s erratic outbursts and shifting bargaining positions, Trudeau himself sometimes has sought to co-opt the trade issue to signal fashionable social justice positions. At a glitzy 2017 women’s rights conference in Toronto, for instance, he told journalist Tina Brown that any new iteration of NAFTA must include blanket guarantees of gender equality. Shortly thereafter, it was reported that Canadian negotiators were pushing for a what they called a “groundbreaking” new NAFTA chapter on indigenous rights. The idea that Trump’s administration would say yes to either of these proposals belongs in the realm of satire. 
News of the U.S.-Mexican deal has created a sense of crisis in Canada. It’s not just that the draft agreement includes nuts-and-bolts provisions that Canadian negotiators have opposed, such as an increase in the required level of domestically sourced content in manufactured cars, which will disadvantage Canadian suppliers whose parts are used in U.S. assembly plants. More fundamentally, the sight of Canadian trade officials submissively signing on to an agreement negotiated entirely by two other countries would represent a humiliation for Canada—and for Trudeau himself, who followed his 2015 election win with the bold claim that “Canada is back.” 
And yet, this sense of crisis hasn’t led to anything resembling panic. The Canadian benchmark TSX Composite Index has been largely flat over the last week. And the Canadian dollar is worth about 77 American cents—just where it was a month ago. Perhaps that’s because there are many reasons to expect that Trudeau—and, more importantly, the country he leads—will come out of this crisis in good shape, with both dignity and economy fully intact. Here are three of them. 
First, while Friday is being touted as a “deadline” for Canadian buy-in on the U.S.-Mexico agreement, there isn’t as much urgency as some might think. The U.S. Congress would have to approve any new trade pact, a process that could take months—or even become stalled indefinitely. (And although any U.S. president could unilaterally withdraw from NAFTA after giving Canada and Mexico six months’ notice, Congress can use legislative means to revoke or modify that power.) The fact of congressional involvement plays massively to Trudeau’s advantage because, from the moment Trump was elected, the prime minister and his team have been playing the long game in Washington, assembling a powerful network of pro-trade allies among legislators, business lobbyists, and governors. Already, some of these players are pushing back at the U.S.-Mexico deal and the associated ultimatum to Ottawa. “The administration … must reach an agreement with Canada,” Republican Sen. Pat Toomey warned Trump this week. “NAFTA was a tri-party agreement.” 
Second, for all the talk of “replacing” NAFTA, the new template seems, from what we know, a lot like the agreement it could replace. Moreover, at least one of the few proposed big-ticket changes to the status quo—a provision requiring at least 40 to 45 percent of a vehicle to be produced by workers earning at least $16 per hour—would actually play to Canada’s advantage, because it likely would encourage a shift in production from low-labor-cost Mexico to high-labor-cost Canada. As Catherine Porter of the New York Times notes, the deepest concerns Canada has with the U.S.-Mexico agreement are meta-issues: dispute resolution mechanisms (which Canada wants, but the United States doesn’t) and the addition of sunset provisions (vice versa). In both cases, the new model would provide less long-term assurance to Canada’s foreign investors than the incumbent NAFTA regime. But there would likely be no immediate effect on the economy. 
Third, Trudeau has a trump card he could play that would allow his negotiators to gain critical leverage on some or all of the above-listed issues—without hurting Canada’s bottom line. Just the opposite: Trump’s brinkmanship allows Trudeau political cover to end an outdated and inefficient protectionist program that impoverishes Canadian consumers even as it (properly) irks American competitors and trade negotiators. 
That program, of course, is Canada’s dairy cartel, which rigs the domestic market for eggs and milk products through a combination of price controls, production quotas, and tariffs. As I wrote in Foreign Policy several months ago, it’s a naked racket that drives windfall profits to the corporate farm operations that have steadily bought up most of Canada’s family farms (much of which is shoveled back into sentimental propaganda campaigns aimed at shoring up political support for the scheme). According to one authoritative 2012 study, the cartel costs the average Canadian family about 200 Canadian dollars (more than $150) per year. For decades, it has been taken as political gospel in Canada that no government could break up this scheme without suffering electoral catastrophe. But as polls show, every crisis creates opportunity. And if Canadians knew that ending the dairy cartel was the price they paid for the effective survival of NAFTA, few would object.
You see what I mean? J-Kay makes the case for standing up to the schoolyard bully - sort of, a bit - while yielding on the critical concessions, especially on dairy. There's still a lot of NatPo in Mr. Kay. When I heard Trump discussing this at some Gullibilly gathering, his voice was dripping with sado-sexual triumphalism. It was dripping off his words about how those Canadian pussies had even come to all the way to Washington to receive Trump's marching orders and how, any day now, the Canadians will fold.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

What a Perfect Day

For grifters, it's something of a perfect day.

First, Kinder Morgan (bastard offspring of Enron) hooks Canadian taxpayers into shelling out a 700 per cent windfall to KM shareholders for an old, decrepit, end-of-life pipeline. All so our federal government can do what Kinder Morgan executives knew was a certain financial disaster, build a high-cost, high-risk expanded pipeline to try to flog the world's highest-cost, lowest-value, highest-carbon ersatz petroleum on the planet - bitumen.

Kids, $4.5 billion, the TransMountain price tag, is just for starters. We could be in for eleven, possibly twelve billion for this damned pipeline, all of which could become worthless overnight when, not if but when, the carbon bubble bursts. When that happens, the oil giants will collapse and there'll be no one but the taxpayers to foot the massive costs of remediation of Athabasca.

But wait, there's more.

On this very day, Enron's former CEO, Jeff Skillings, has been released from prison in Alabama to a halfway house in his old stomping grounds, Houston, Texas.

I think when it comes to the Trudeau Memorial TransMountain Pipeline, Skillings will be justifiably proud of the deal cut by his successors.

I heard these things come in threes. What would be the third? Oh maybe Canada claiming victory for a trade deal dictated by the US that further hobbles our chances of restoring progressive democracy to Canada.  No, no, sorry you're wrong. What we have now isn't especially progressive.

"FemiNazis" - No, Really.

Feminazi once was a pejorative to describe particularly strident feminists. Well, it's got a new meaning now.

A new study finds women increasingly drawn to right-wing populist parties.

It used to be that these radical groups were seen as the preserve of men, especially young men. That's changed.
...that's not entirely accurate, according to a new study by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), which is affiliated with Germany's center-left Social Democratic Party. The report, which examines right-wing populist voters in Germany, France, Greece, Poland, Sweden and Hungary, found that women are increasingly drawn to right-wing populist parties. 
What makes these parties appealing to women? 
Right-wing populist parties tend to propagate an anachronistic image of femininity. However, that did not stop some 17 percent of women in eastern Germany from casting their ballot in favor of the AfD during the country's 2017 parliamentary election; 8 percent of women in western Germany did likewise. And in Poland, more women than men voted for the ruling right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party in the country's 2015 election.
...So, what is it that makes these parties so appealing to women? Elisa Gutsche, who edited the FES study, argued that many right-wing populist parties examined in the report seek to garner female votes by promising to strengthen the welfare system. "Parties say they will raise child benefit payments and make related allowances to promote families," she said. 
Poland's PiS, for instance, has launched the Family 500+ initiative, which guarantees families with two children a monthly payment of approximately €120 ($140) per child until they reach the age of 18. 
Germany's AfD, in turn, champions a "welcome culture for children" — in contrast to the country's much lauded "welcome culture" towards foreign refugees. Indeed, a sizable number of female voters have opted to support the party due to anxiety over what the future might hold and fears that Germany's pension system may collapse. Social issues, therefore, often motivate many women to back right-wing populists.
...The report also highlights how women are actually more inclined to subscribe to strong xenophobic and Islamophobic beliefs than men. 
"That finding surprised me the most," said Gutsche. Women face a constant uphill struggle in a patriarchal society, she explained — they are more likely to have badly paying jobs and are at higher risk of old-age poverty. 
"I think women sense they are at the lower rungs of society and find themselves having to compete against refugees and migrants," said Gutsche. That, in her view, also helps to explain why women support right-wing populist parties.

Trump Supporter Threatens to Shoot Boston Globe Staff

Two things - Trump supporters include a significant number of absolute nutters. You have to be a bit unhinged to believe his constant lies. And Trump doesn't hesitate to inflame the lunatics who back him, even inciting them to violence.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise when one of Trump's Gullibillies takes matters into his own hands.
A man has been arrested and charged with threatening to kill employees of the Boston Globe newspaper, in messages repeating Donald Trump’s claims that journalists are the “enemy of the people” and “fake news”
Robert Chain called the Globe’s newsroom and claimed he would shoot staff members in the head, according to the FBI, which said Chain later specified that he was retaliating against the newspaper’s criticism of Trump’s attacks on the news media. 
Chain, of Encino, California, owns several firearms and was found to have purchased a new 9mm carbine rifle in May this year, according to US authorities.
Mr. Chain is, if nothing else, a domestic terrorist and he comes from the ranks of a gaggle of like-minded, fear-stoked, racist people fed a rich diet of vitriol by their pathetic excuse of a president. There's one thing Hillary had right - they're deplorable.

Here's Something Justin Trudeau Can Do

Our prime minister never hesitates to apologize for the sins of past Canadian governments. Maybe he should take a page out of his own book to redress his own sins.

He can start by doing whatever is necessary to expunge the criminal records of those brave protesters who stood up to his sham pipeline project and were jailed for their defying his lies and abuse in order that they might somehow defend our coast.

Today's unanimous decision of the Federal Court of Appeal morally exonerates their supposed trespass of the Kinder Morgan terminal in Burnaby.

Trudeau cannot claim he acted in good faith because there is no good faith in lies and his pipeline venture stands on a foundation of falsehoods.

He can turn on the waterworks for the long past sins of others. This time the wrongdoing is entirely his own.

Federal Court - Thumbs Down on Trudeau Memorial Pipeline

"Sold Out" Liberal - Indeed

The Federal Court of Appeal has rejected the Trudeau government's sham approval of the TransMountain pipeline project.

In a written decision, the court says the energy board’s review was so flawed that the federal government could not rely on it as a basis for its decision to approve the expansion.
"So flawed" to be sure. Rigged would be a more apt description. Yet that didn't stop the Trudeau government from declaring the process legitimate, not when it came to steamrollering dissent and protests from First Nations groups, environmentalists, the province of British Columbia and several of its most heavily populated municipalities.


There's a word that will be heard a lot in next year's federal election campaign.


More from the National Observer:
The decision, announced Aug. 30, is the first major court defeat for the project, requiring the government to ask the federal energy regulator or its successor to redo a federal environmental evaluation and correct a “critical” mistake it made to ignore the consequences of increased oil tanker traffic off the coast of British Columbia.

The decision will also require the Trudeau government to restart its consultations with First Nations about the project, before construction can proceed. 
Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Thursday he had received the ruling and was "taking the appropriate time to review the decision." The minister said he would make further comments later in the day.
...The unanimous ruling criticized the Trudeau government for making a decision based on inadequate evidence from the report prepared by the National Energy Board after it held hearings to review the project. 
It also said the government’s consultation process with First Nations wasn’t meaningful or adequate. 
“Indeed, a review of the record of the consultation process discloses that Canada displayed a closed-mindedness when concerns were expressed about the Board’s report and was reluctant to depart from the findings and recommendations of the Board,” said the ruling, drafted by Justice Eleanor Dawson. 
“With rare exceptions, Canada did not dialogue meaningfully with the Indigenous applicants about their concerns about the Board’s review. Instead, Canada’s representatives were focused on transmitting concerns of the Indigenous applicants to the decision-makers and nothing more. Canada was obliged to do more than passively hear and receive the real concerns of the Indigenous applicants.”
Tankers, Tankers, Tankers.

The Trudeau government tried to keep the hazards of an armada of bitumen laden supertankers and the associated risk to British Columbia's coastal waters out of the review process. The court jumped all over that nonsense.
“The unjustified failure to assess the effects of marine shipping under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, and the resulting flawed conclusion about the effects of the Project was so critical that the Governor in Council could not functionally make the kind of assessment of the Project’s environmental effects and the public interest that the legislation requires.”
That's why Justin chose Dame Cathy McKenna as his environment minister. She'll do whatever she's told.


Here's a shocker. Kinder Morgan shareholders just voted overwhelmingly to confirm the sale of the pipeline to the federal government for the laughable (for them) sum of $4.5 billion.
Asked if Canada could walk away from the deal if the ruling quashes the permit, a finance department spokesman said the agreement has been signed and there's no backing out.
Reacting to the unanimous rejection of the TransMountain process, Trudeau finmin, 'Job Churn' Morneau, this morning confirmed that the purchase of the pipeline will complete "as early as tomorrow."

And so Kinder Morgan reaps a 700+ per cent profit on a derelict pipeline it has owned for just over a decade. Wouldn't you like to get a 70% annual return on your money?

One thing that is clear. If the pipeline project has to go back for an honest environmental review, that can't be entrusted to the federal government. They knew the approval process was rigged and said so repeatedly during the 2015 election campaign only to embrace it once elected.

The Trudeau government ensured that its own pipeline review was rigged. The Trudeau government has repeatedly and persistently lied to Canadians and, especially, to British Columbians about matters such as safety and spills. Now that this same government will have 4.5 Billion reasons to keep rigging and lying, they are not to be trusted.

Why not allow a body whose credibility does not lie in smoking tatters do an honest review? A body such as the Royal Society of Canada should fit the bill. Of course if Trudeau wanted an honest assessment he would have done it himself, just as he promised in the 2015 campaign. Curiously, he didn't.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

2018 Is Number One

Just a few weeks ago this year's wildfire season was the fourth worst in British Columbia history. Then it moved up to third and then second only to last year's record wildfires that consumed 12,000 sq. kms. of forest.

Move over 2017 because 2018 has taken your title and, by a fair and still growing margin.  2018 has already seen 13,000 sq. kms. of forest set ablaze and the season is nowhere near ending.

1,467 fires have been started by lightning, 443 by human activity.

Place Your Bets. Trudeau Announces Canada's 'Clean Fuel Standard.'

It's called a "clean fuel standard" and it will be an unusually ballsy move for Justin Trudeau - if it ever comes into being.

CFS in a nutshell:
The CFS aims to make all fuels cleaner, and includes policies such as adding ethanol to gasoline or requiring more renewable natural gas to be produced from landfills and food waste.

While a carbon tax targets the person using the fuel, the CFS is aimed at companies supplying the fuel.
CFS regulations for liquid fuels will come out next spring - just in time for the federal election. Solid fuel regs will come into effect in 2020.
It's difficult to pinpoint what impact the CFS could have since the policy is still being developed, however it could raise gasoline prices by five cents per litre at the pump, according to an estimate by the Alberta government. Natural gas and other energy prices would rise as well.
In reality there is no CFS policy as such, at least not yet. It's still being formulated which means it has about the same chance of a stillbirth as electoral reform, especially if Alberta has anything to say about it.

The Alberta government says the CFS could undermine all the work the province has taken to tackle climate change since it could add significant costs for low-income families and trade-exposed industries without any provisions to cushion the blow.
This feels like they are writing off Alberta and we can't have that happen. We're prepared to continue swinging on this one and stand up for what's important in Alberta," said Marg McCuaig-Boyd, Alberta's energy minister. 
The CFS will have an impact on all provinces, but especially Alberta.
Alberta complains CFS will mean bigger bills for consumers, as much as five cents per litre at the pump for gasoline.
A large oil company would likely see costs rise across the board at every facility it owns. For instance, an oilsands plant would pay more for using natural gas to process its bitumen, a refinery would pay more for natural gas used to separate oil into different fuels and petroleum products, and a company would likely have to buy ethanol to mix with gasoline before it can be sold at the pumps. Across the board, expenses could increase in the oilpatch. 
The Alberta government is also watching smaller details of the CFS such as how coal-fired power plants will be impacted. The federal government was considering excluding those power plants from the CFS since those facilities are already being phased out by 2030 under a separate policy. However, the Alberta government is concerned the CFS could be a perverse disincentive for companies to switch from coal to natural gas in power plants, since natural gas would be impacted by the CFS.
This sounds ambitious - CFS atop carbon pricing. Unfortunately this prime minister doesn't do 'tough' well and he would have to be tough enough to tame the western producing provinces and the eastern consuming provinces and a disgruntled public - all in an election year.

Any bets? Place your bets. We're giving odds. The fact that next to no effort is being made by the government to inform the public of CFS (or carbon pricing for that matter) to build popular support for the initiative speaks volumes. Without some degree of public acceptance, CFS is just another tax on the working man's pay packet, another cash grab. That's how Trudeau's opponents will sell it and this may go the way of Dion's doomed-from-the-outset, Green Shift programme.

Oh yeah. CFS also won't affect bitumen sales on world markets or the Justin Trudeau Memorial TransMountain Pipeline. Trudeau is concerned about Canadian fossil fuel emissions, not the emissions from Canadian bitumen burned abroad. Sure it all goes up into the same atmosphere but somehow it's not the same, sort of.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Trump Warns Evangelicals of Violence if Dems Win in November

He's a man of no scruples. There's nothing he won't say, he won't do.

Now Trump is spreading fear of Democrats among evangelicals, people who are a wee bit susceptible to believing absolute crap.

"This November 6 election is very much a referendum on not only me, it's a referendum on your religion, it's a referendum on free speech and the First Amendment. It's a referendum on so much," Trump told the assemblage of pastors and other Christian leaders gathered in the State Dining Room, according to a recording from people in the room.
"It's not a question of like or dislike, it's a question that they will overturn everything that we've done and they will do it quickly and violently. And violently. There is violence. When you look at Antifa -- these are violent people," Trump said, describing what would happen should his voters fail to cast ballots. "You have tremendous power. You were saying, in this room, you have people who preach to almost 200 million people. Depending on which Sunday we're talking about."
"I think we're doing well, I think we're popular, but there's a real question as to whether people are going to vote if I'm not on the ballot. And I'm not on the ballot."

An Indictment of Our Prime Minister and Many of Our Premiers

‘Politicians who think they can solve the climate change crisis by expanding hydrocarbon production have become terrorists in our communities, anarchists in our oceans and arsonists in our forests.’

The Canadian journalist who knows more about western energy politics and the Athabasca Tar Sands than all others, Andrew Nikiforuk, is calling out every petro-pimp politician in the country from our prime minister on down.

On Saturday, a group of Canadian writers protested the federal government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline with a public reading attended by almost 200 people.

Writers and poets including John Vaillant, Patrick Freisen, Eve Joseph, Deborah Campbell, Bill Gaston, Shaena Lambert, Caroline Adderson, Brian Brett, Briony Penn and Ronald Wright took part in the reading on Burnaby Mountain. 
Novelist Margaret Atwood also contributed to the event with a short and pointed statement that warned that “Canadian taxpayers are now unwilling participants in a potentially ocean-killing project that ignores Indigenous rights… Human life on earth cannot survive dead oceans.” All the submissions to the event — some 150 pieces by writers and poets across the country — will be sent to the prime minister.
The protestors, most of whom were women, all risked going to jail for 14 days.

But Kinder Morgan did not file a complaint with the RCMP about our action. A foreign corporation decides when the law is broken on Burnaby Mountain, and the idea of telling the police to arrest one writer and several courageous women apparently didn’t appeal to Kinder Morgan that day. So there were no arrests Saturday, although 220 people have been arrested since protests began.
Nikiforuk added his indictment.
Writers, by their trade, work in isolation and often live comfortable lives. 
If they have one duty — one soulful commitment — it is to serve truth and freedom. 
These duties, as Albert Camus often reflected, can be arduous.
More than 50 years ago he argued that writers cannot serve those who make history; they must serve those who are subject to it. 
He added that “the great citizens of a country are not those who bend the knee before authority but rather those who, against authority if need be, are adamant as to the honour and freedom of that country.” 
I am here today to defend liberty and freedom, and I am here to defend the rights of Coast Salish people and the residents of Burnaby to protest an egregious pipeline. 
The Canadian government has bought this leaky steel pipe from a corrupt Texas company with taxpayers’ money. 
To defend its purchase the government has lied about the economics. 
There is no Asian price premium for bitumen and there never will be. Bitumen is junk crude and it is priced as cheap refinery feedstock around the world. 
Our government has also lied about its abilities to clean up bitumen spills in the ocean.
And it has lied to the Canadian people about the consequences of expanding fossil fuel production, which now directly feed the wildfires that are consuming our treed landscapes and poisoning our watersheds. 
Politicians who think they can solve the climate change crisis by expanding hydrocarbon production have become terrorists in our communities, anarchists in our oceans and arsonists in our forests. 
They are behaving like crazed firemen who think they can fight fire with gasoline. 
Our children, who can see the moral hazard clearly, are now living with the flames and carbon-filled skies.
Our government now thinks it is serving justice by arresting and jailing a 75-year-old citizen and recipient of the Order of Canada who merely exercised her civic duty to protest the construction of an unnecessary pipeline. 
Our Crown prosecutors have argued for longer and stiffer jail times — without shame. 
In such a time the writer’s role is clear and simple. We must resist the lies. We must resist the deception and we must resist the political bullying. 
Camus said it best: “Without giving up anything on the place of justice, yield nothing on the plane of freedom.”
Now, before you dismiss this is a smear against Trudeau, it's not. I have no illusions that the Conservatives would be any different. Notley, meanwhile, has shown that a New Democrat won't hesitate to join the ranks of the petro-pimps. I take it on faith (for what 'faith' is worth) that the Greens would not cross that line but I can't be sure.

What I do know is that I and many like me are on one side of that line and most of our political leadership, for that matter most Canadians, are on the other side. You can't pretend on this one. You can't pretend you're on our side of the line if you support the Liberals or the Conservatives or even the New Dems. If you back those parties you've chosen the side of what Nikiforuk calls the terrorists, the anarchists and the arsonists.

Sorry, but some times you just have to choose.

Krugman's Clarion Call of Warning

Paul Krugman writes that democracy in America will be won - or lost - in the November mid-term elections. If it is lost, it's probably gone for good.
Soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a friend of mine — an expert on international relations — made a joke: “Now that Eastern Europe is free from the alien ideology of Communism, it can return to its true historical path — fascism.” Even at the time, his quip had a real edge. 
And as of 2018 it hardly seems like a joke at all. What Freedom House calls illiberalism is on the rise across Eastern Europe. This includes Poland and Hungary, both still members of the European Union, in which democracy as we normally understand it is already dead.
In both countries the ruling parties — Law and Justice in Poland, Fidesz in Hungary — have established regimes that maintain the forms of popular elections, but have destroyed the independence of the judiciary, suppressed freedom of the press, institutionalized large-scale corruption and effectively delegitimized dissent. The result seems likely to be one-party rule for the foreseeable future. 
And it could all too easily happen here. There was a time, not long ago, when people used to say that our democratic norms, our proud history of freedom, would protect us from such a slide into tyranny. In fact, some people still say that. But believing such a thing today requires willful blindness. The fact is that the Republican Party is ready, even eager, to become an American version of Law and Justice or Fidesz, exploiting its current political power to lock in permanent rule. 
...We’re currently sitting on a knife edge. If we fall off it in the wrong direction — specifically, if Republicans retain control of both houses of Congress in November — we will become another Poland or Hungary faster than you can imagine. 
...A year ago it seemed possible that there might be limits to the party’s complicity, that there would come a point where at least a few representatives or senators would say, no more. Now it’s clear that there are no limits: They’ll do whatever it takes to defend Trump and consolidate power
This goes even for politicians who once seemed to have some principles. Senator Susan Collins of Maine was a voice of independence in the health care debate; now she sees no problem with having a president who’s an unindicted co-conspirator appoint a Supreme Court justice who believes that presidents are immune from prosecution. Senator Lindsey Graham denounced Trump in 2016, and until recently seemed to be standing up against the idea of firing the attorney general to kill the Mueller investigation; now he’s signaled that he’s O.K. with such a firing. 
But why is America, the birthplace of democracy, so close to following the lead of other countries that have recently destroyed it?
Don’t tell me about “economic anxiety.” That’s not what happened in Poland, which grew steadily through the financial crisis and its aftermath. And it’s not what happened here in 2016: Study after study has found that racial resentment, not economic distress, drove Trump voters.] 
The point is that we’re suffering from the same disease — white nationalism run wild — that has already effectively killed democracy in some other Western nations. And we’re very, very close to the point of no return.

Breathing Bad Air Makes You Dumber

It's well known that breathing heavily polluted air can exact a toll on respiratory and cardiological health.  Now it turns out it can also make you a fair bit dumber.
Air pollution causes a “huge” reduction in intelligence, according to new research, indicating that the damage to society of toxic air is far deeper than the well-known impacts on physical health. 
The research was conducted in China but is relevant across the world, with 95% of the global population breathing unsafe air. It found that high pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education.
Air pollution causes seven million premature deaths a year but the harm to people’s mental abilities is less well known. A recent study found toxic air was linked to “extremely high mortality” in people with mental disordersand earlier work linked it to increased mental illness in children, while another analysis found those living near busy roads had an increased risk of dementia.
...Derrick Ho, at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said the impact of air pollution on cognition was important and his group had similar preliminary findings in their work. “It is because high air pollution can potentially be associated with oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and neurodegeneration of humans,” he said.

Chen said air pollution was most likely to be the cause of the loss of intelligence, rather than simply being a correlation. The study followed the same individuals as air pollution varied from one year to the next, meaning that many other possible causal factors such as genetic differences are automatically accounted for.

What Causes Republicans to Wake Up In a Sweat

This is kind of precious. Congressional Republicans have compiled a list of what awaits them and their president if the Democrats win control of the House in November. They've even logged it all in a spreadsheet.

Publicly, House Republicans are putting on a brave face about the midterms. But privately, they are scrambling to prepare for the worst. This document, which catalogs requests Democrats have already made, is part of that effort.
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It has churned Republican stomachs. Here are some of the probes it predicts: 
President Trump’s tax returns 
Trump family businesses — and whether they comply with the Constitution's emoluments clause, including the Chinese trademark grant to the Trump Organization 
Trump's dealings with Russia, including the president's preparation for his meeting with Vladimir Putin 
The payment to Stephanie Clifford — a.k.a. Stormy Daniels 
James Comey's firing 
Trump's firing of U.S. attorneys 
Trump's proposed transgender ban for the military 
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's business dealings 
White House staff's personal email use 
Cabinet secretary travel, office expenses, and other misused perks 
Discussion of classified information at Mar-a-Lago 
Jared Kushner's ethics law compliance 
Dismissal of members of the EPA board of scientific counselors 
The travel ban 
Family separation policy 
Hurricane response in Puerto Rico 
Election security and hacking attempts 
White House security clearances
The spreadsheet is said to list 100 items that the Republicans would rather see unexplored.
Thanks to their control of Congress, Republicans have blocked most of the Democrats’ investigative requests. But if the House flips, the GOP loses its power to stymie. Lawyers close to the White House tell me the Trump administration is nowhere near prepared for the investigatory onslaught that awaits them, and they consider it among the greatest threats to his presidency.
If you were Paul Ryan you too might want to beat feet out of Washington, or at least Capitol Hill, while the getting is good.

Because, Justin, It's 2018, Not 2050.

It's now inescapable that Canada has crossed several red lines on climate change. What is unclear is when Ottawa will respond accordingly, responsibly.

This is not "pick on Justin" day. There's no need for that. His record speaks for itself. The Justin Trudeau Memorial TransMountain Pipeline is what it is. The federal and Alberta governments' commitment to flooding world markets with as much toxic, high-carbon ersatz petroleum, bitumen, is inarguable. The fact that my province is in the throes of what is already the second worst wildfire season on record (only next to last year's) is incontestable. The role that climate change has played in these worsening annual wildfires is conclusively made out.

According to Chilliwack fire ecologist Robert Gray, the scale of the wildfire emergencies we've lived through in 2017 and 2018 wasn't expected for decades. 
"What we thought was going to be an average condition in 2050, we're starting to see those conditions coming a lot sooner," Gray told CBC. 
"There's been a lot of discussion in the scientific community about really changing what we think the future is going to look like."
University of Alberta professor, Mike Flannigan, doesn't hesitate to say what our prime minister won't.
"Colleagues and I have been saying for years that the increase we've already seen in the area burned across Canada — a doubling since the early 70s — is due to human-caused climate change," he said.

Warmer weather brings longer wildfire seasons and more lightning, while the atmosphere gets better at sucking the moisture out of plants and dead wood, researchers say. 
The end result is both bigger and more intense fires, and Flannigan's research suggests a significant increase in wildfire intensity in recent years. 
"This is really key, because as fires become more intense, they're difficult to impossible to put out," he said.
B.C. is stuck with the question of how to better prepare for the years ahead. 
Limiting the release of greenhouse gases might be a good long-term option, but both Gray and Flannigan point out that any positive impacts won't be felt for several decades. 
In the meantime, they would like to see more measures like controlled burning, thinning out forests around communities, preparing homes and businesses through the Fire Smart program, developing early warning systems for wildfires and allowing more fires to burn if they aren't threatening human homes, lives or infrastructure.
"We have to learn to live with fire, coexist with fire. There's no other solution," said Flannigan.
Among the proposed solutions, one that is conspicuously absent is that Canada should "go green" by flooding world markets with bitumen. No, that's what they call "counter-intuitive" or, in less polite circles, utter bullshit.

The world, our world, is in the throes of very destructive, often lethal, climate change and all indicators suggest it is rapidly worsening. Meanwhile, prime minister Nero flogs bitumen as the country burns.

Monday, August 27, 2018

When It Comes Down to It, Survival Is Not Out Priority.

A couple of weeks ago, 2018 was said to be the fifth-worst season for forest fires in British Columbia history. A week ago that had bumped up to third-worst. Now 2018 is second only to 2017 and we've got a good stretch of forest fire season still ahead.

Writing in The Tyee, Guy Dauncey excoriates the Horgan NDP government for its timid response to the growing wildfire catastrophe.
Our forests are burning, not just in B.C. and California but also in Russia, Europe, and even in the Arctic Circle. A persistent heat wave has been breaking all weather records in Canada, the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Torrential downpours and mudslides have been killing people. Flooding has inundated cities. Some cities in India, Pakistan and the Middle East have been having temperatures as high as 50 C, the level at which “human cells start to cook, blood thickens, muscles lock around the lungs and the brain is choked of oxygen.” A report published in Nature this month found that the warming Arctic is slowing the circulation of the jet stream, causing prolonged weather patterns and making the weather less able to moderate itself. These things will all become common, unless we get an urgent grip on what’s happening. 
This is crazy. Another study published this month found that we are pushing our planet toward an irreversible “Hothouse Earth,” with catastrophic warming of 5 C or more causing an eventual long-term sea level rise (after many hundred years) of up to 70 metres. Its authors warn us that we may be much closer to the point-of-no-return than most people realize. It suggests that because of numerous feedback factors, the path to catastrophic climate collapse is more like a cliff, and once you cross it, it triggers a rockslide that will quickly bring ruin. Large areas of B.C.’s Lower Mainland are less than three metres above sea level.
Victoria's dereliction of duty. Does this sound familiar?
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a senior advisor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Union, warned in the foreword to the new Australian report What Lies Beneath: The Understatement of Existential Climate Risk, “Climate change is now reaching the end-game, where very soon humanity must choose between taking unprecedented action, or accepting that it has been left too late and bear the consequences.” 
So what unprecedented action is the B.C. government proposing to address the advancing catastrophe? It feels a bit like “punt it into the future and let the next generation sort it out,” with goals of reducing emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2050, but without annual goals or carbon budgets or the needed policies. Our NDP MLAs should be embarrassed. Our Green Party MLAs should be screaming from the legislature rooftops. It’s just not good enough. (I don’t expect the Liberal MLAs to contribute much; they have never seemed to understand the issue.)
Dauncey concludes his article with 12 steps the British Columbia government (all Canadian governments for that matter) can and should implement if we're to have some chance of averting the worst of climate change.  Follow the link to read them if you like. I won't dwell on them here because, while I think his ideas are sound, I believe the public is not prepared to change their ways, including sacrifice, that reversing course would entail and, without a clamoring public forcing their hand, no politician will try to lead from the front on climate change.

Hedges on America's New Serfdom

Think of it as neofeudalism in which the masses, stripped of economic and political clout, are consigned to servitude. Chris Hedges writes of the ascent of neofeudalism.

We live in a new feudalism. We have been stripped of political power. Workers are trapped in menial jobs, forced into crippling debt and paid stagnant or declining wages. Chronic poverty and exploitative working conditions in many parts of the world, and increasingly in the United States, replicate the hell endured by industrial workers at the end of the 19th century. The complete capture of ruling institutions by corporations and their oligarchic elites, including the two dominant political parties, the courts and the press, means there is no mechanism left by which we can reform the system or protect ourselves from mounting abuse. We will revolt or become 21st-century serfs, forced to live in misery and brutally oppressed by militarized police and the most sophisticated security and surveillance system in human history while the ruling oligarchs continue to wallow in unimagined wealth and opulence.
“The new tax code is explosive excess,” the economist Richard Wolff said when we spoke in New York. “We’ve had 30 or 40 years where corporations paid less taxes than they ever did. They made more money than they ever did. They have been able to keep wages stagnant while the productivity of labor rose. This is the last moment historically they need another big gift, let alone at the expense of the very people whose wages have been stagnant. To give them a tax bust of this sort, basically reducing from 35 percent to 20 percent, is a 40 percent cut. This kind of crazy excess reminds you of the [kings] of France before the French Revolution when the level of excess reached an explosive social dimension. That’s where we are.”
It is predicted that the Republicans, if they can hang onto Congress in November, will follow up their tax cuts for the rich by pleading poverty (entirely self-inflicted) to justify cuts to social security and medicaid, thus further impoverishing working class Americans including the Gullibillies they've  groomed so well.


So much for grand words of unity and solidarity. While Trump sidelined Canada, Mexico cut a trade deal with the US.

That is Trump's way and now he'll use his deal with Mexico to exact no end of concessions from Canada.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

McCain Dies.

John McCain has succumbed to brain cancer at age 81. A far from perfect man with a sometimes mercurial temper, McCain nevertheless even in death towers over his sordid adversary and frequent antagonist, Donald Trump.

With the Arizona senator's death, his Senate colleague Lindsey Graham will soldier on without any trace of his balls.

McCain specifically directed that Trump was not to be welcomed to attend his funeral. Obama will attend along with Bush Jr. and Clinton. McCain's friend of many years, Joe Biden, will also attend.

Trump's Millstone - the National Enquirer?

During the runup to the 2016 presidential election, the National Enquirer went on a full court press to malign Hillary Clinton and tout for Donald Trump.

I know, I know, that's generally considered First Amendment stuff. Free speech. Off limits.

But what if this isn't a matter of freedom of speech? What if the National Enquirer was a de facto public relations organ of the Trump campaign, its CEO, David Pecker, coordinating the Enquirer's coverage with the campaign and, by some accounts, Trump himself? One source claims that Trump actually chose which stories would appear on the Enquirer cover.

In that case, all those Enquirer editions could be seen as a massive, undisclosed and probably illegal campaign contribution.

I don't pay attention to the Enquirer or other tabloids that you see at grocery store checkouts but Rachel Maddow showed several Enquirer covers from the pre-election period and they were remarkable to say the least. Bizarre.

Trump's always demanding evidence of "collusion." I think the Equirer business qualifies and it goes to campaign finance law violations, tax law violations, who knows what else?

And then there's the safe where Pecker is said to have stashed spiked stories

A Week Like No Other

What a deliciously horrible week for Donald Trump. His former lawyer and fixer cops to eight felonies. Rat. His former campaign manager is convicted on eight felonies and faces a bigger trial next month. His media mogul bestie, Pecker, cuts an immunity deal with prosecutors. Rat. And then, the icing on the cake. His family's right hand man for the past half century, Weisselberg the accountant/CFO, who knows where all the bodies are buried, cuts an immunity deal with prosecutors. Rat.

Trump has the tenacious New York Attorney General nipping at his heels, tearing into the Trump Organization, the Trump Foundation, and the kids - Ivanka, Don Jr., Eric, and Kushner. He's got the federal prosecutor for New York Southern District following the Trump blood trail. The federal Attorney for Washington is pursuing Trump and his minions. And there's the Mueller investigation spinning work to all of the others and ready to pounce on the Russia connections. They're gunning for the Mango Mussolini and they're coming at him from all directions.

The various prosecutors are employing RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) tactics, rolling up the suspects, getting them to rat out the guys above. They're falling like dominoes.

Team Mueller has done its homework. One witness who testified before Mueller's Grand Jury said the prosecutors knew him better than he knew himself.

Even Trump's lawyers are lawyering up.   Rudy Giuliani has decided to go golfing in Scotland.

Trump is desperate to fire his AG, Sessions, and replace him with some malleable stooge who will shut down the Mueller investigation but it's hard to see how Congress can do that now that the floodgates of scandal have opened so wide. Mueller hasn't even submitted his interim report yet but that will come out well before Trump can get a new AG in place to silence the special prosecutor.

If Mueller moves on the kids, Trump's best move might be to resign and have Pence do a Gerald Ford, pardoning everyone named Trump or married to one.

Friday, August 24, 2018

A World Ablaze

Here's the state of Planet Earth generated by NASA's Worldview technology.

In this photo, the red dots designate points on the planet where NASA's thermal bands have detected actively burning fires. In Africa, says NASA, where the majority of the world fires appear to be burning, a vast number of these are most likely strategically set agricultural fires, designed to manage land and return nutrients to the soil. 
However a large number represent out of control wildfires. Particularly in North America and Chile. 
The fires in Australia are bushfires, which tend to be common during dry seasons, but Australia is currently in the middle of winter (and a drought). "As the climate continues to change," said NASA in a post, "and areas become hotter and drier, more and more extreme bushfires will break out across the entire Australian continent."

This Could Send Trump Running Amok

What a week this has been for the Mango Mussolini. Cohen cops to eight felonies. Manafort convicted of eight felonies. Trump bestie, media mogul David Pecker, strikes an immunity deal with federal prosecutors.

Now it's Allen Weisselberg's turn to get under the federal immunity umbrella.

Allen Weisselberg, the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, entered an immunity deal with federal prosecutors in exchange for his testimony about Michael Cohen, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

...Weisselberg’s knowledge of the inner workings of the Trump Organization may be second only to Trump’s. He has served as executive vice-president and chief financial officer of the organization for decades. After he was elected, Trump said he was leaving the business in the hands of Weisselberg and his sons.

 More, from Wiki.

Following college, Weisselberg worked as an accountant for real estate magnate Fred Trump in the 1970s.[6] By the late 1980s, he was controller of the organization and worked under CFO Stephen Bollenbach.[5] In 2000, Weisselberg was named chief financial officer and Vice President of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts. He also served as treasurer of the Donald J. Trump Foundation, and has handled the household expenses of the Trump family.[7][5] 
On January 11, 2017, it was announced that Weisselberg would serve as a trustee at the Trump Organization alongside Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. while Donald Trump serves as President of the United States.[4] 
On April 4, 2017, a report by ProPublica revealed Eric Trump was degraded from a trustee to an adviser to the trust, leaving Trump Jr. and Weisselberg as its sole trustees. The report clarifies that the only people who know the details of the Trump trust's finances are its trustees.[1] 
Weisselberg arranged for the Trump Organization to pay Michael Cohen a $35,000 monthly retainer fee following Cohen's hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.[7] The Wall Street Journal reported on July 26, 2018, that Weisselberg had been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury regarding the Cohen investigation.[8]
Trump's attempts to derail the Mueller investigation by replacing Jeff Sessions with a more malleable (i.e. "corruptible") Attorney-General may now be too little/too late. New York state Attorney-General, Barbara Underwood, is fast closing in on the Trump Foundation charity, the Trump Organization (the business operation) and Trump's family - Ivanka, Don. Jr., and Eric, along with aides including Weisselberg, Lewandowski and others. Replacing Sessions, in other words, won't stop Trump and family's woes.

"When You See Me, Cry" - Europe's Hunger Stones Emerge

This year's drought in central Europe has exposed stones in the Elbe River bed inscribed with ominous warnings.
The low water levels in the river that begins in the Czech Republic then crosses Germany into the North Sea has exposed stones on the river bed whose appearances in history used to warn people that hard times were coming. 
Over a dozen of the hunger stones, chosen to record low water levels, can now be seen in and near the northern Czech town of Decin near the German border. 
The oldest water mark visible dates to 1616. That stone, is considered the oldest hydrological landmark in Central Europe, bears a chiseled inscription in German that says: "When you see me, cry."
The Elbe isn't the only European river at record low levels. The Danube, used for river cruises and cargo transportation, is at record lows in three areas near Budapest impeding navigation.

Meanwhile the combination of heatwaves and extreme drought has sharply impacted European agricultural production that may result in food shortages.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Has the US Government Become a Criminal Enterprise?

There's a lot of talk today that the Republican-controlled Senate is willing to collaborate with Trump, allowing him to fire AG Sessions and appoint a replacement specifically for the purpose of sabotaging the Mueller investigation into the criminal enterprise known as the Trump White House. This would, in effect, transform the Senate into a criminal enterprise unto itself. The House of Representatives has held that dubious honour since the orange stain was sworn into office.

If Senate Republicans do Trump's bidding, that's the effective end of the Rule of Law in America and the demise of the American Constitution. After that it's all Alibaba and the 40 Thieves.

Criminality runs deep throughout the Republican party. Here's a handy comparison.

We can only hope that Mueller is ready with a pre-emptive strike should Trump toss Sessions. He's going to have to be prepared to spill everything his investigation has uncovered about Trump, his aides, Trump's congressional collaborators and the kids - Don Jr., Eric, Ivanka and Kushner.

One Juror Took Manafort Off the Hook for Ten Felonies

One intransigent juror is all that stood between Paul Manafort and conviction on all 18 felony counts at trial.

“There was one holdout,” the juror in the trial, Paula Duncan, said in an interview. We all tried to convince her to look at the paper trail. We laid it out in front of her again and again and she still said that she had a reasonable doubt.” 
The jury on Tuesday found Manafort guilty on two counts of bank fraud, five counts of tax fraud and one charge of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, giving special counsel Robert Mueller a victory in the first trial arising from his investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 US election.

Is Catherine McKenna as Addled as She Sounds?

Consider this excerpt from today's National Observer.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna tried to square the circle of the federal approach to pipelines and climate change. 
On her way into the retreat, she said the forest fires "demonstrate that climate change is having a real impact on Canadians." 
"This summer is a wake-up call. We've seen extreme weather, we've seen extreme heat that is literally costing lives, we've seen here forest fires, we've seen extreme flooding," she said. 
"We know we need to be taking serious action on climate change and that's exactly what we're doing," she added, touting the federal plan to put a price on carbon, phase out coal and make historic investments in green infrastructure and climate adaptation. 
That said, McKenna said the country is in a transition from its reliance on fossil fuels that contribute to global warming. 
"Transitions do not happen overnight," she said. "I've always said I'm the environment minister for energy workers as much as environmentalists."
In other words, Dame Cathy imagines her ministerial duties put energy workers on a par with environmentalists. This is nothing new for her. She has repeatedly equated the economy and the environment as her Environment and Climate Change ministry's portfolio.

That's sort of like proclaiming herself the minister for poachers as much as endangered wildlife species they target.

Besides I thought we had a ministry for energy and natural resources. If she's going to be doing both jobs, at least fire that other dude.

PostMedia Director Given Immunity Deal in Michael Cohen/Donald Trump Investigation

Who knew that American Media CEO and Trump bestie, David Pecker, also sits on the board of directors of Canada's slowly dying PostMedia news conglomerate.

The Pecker was implicated yesterday as Michael Cohen's co-conspirator in the Trump philandering cover-up just prior to the November, 2016 election.

NBC News is reporting that Pecker has been given immunity in exchange for co-operating with federal prosecutors.

The Madness of King Don

Donald Trump delivered himself of some pretty bizarre views this morning on his favourite cable show, Fox and Friends.

Apparently still smarting from the realization that his former fixer, Michael Cohen, has turned on him, Trump said it "almost ought to be illegal" for a person to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a lighter sentence.

He also brought up the magic word "impeachment."
“If I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor,” adding that Americans would see economic “numbers that you wouldn’t believe in reverse”. In characteristic ebullient style, he also doubted it will happen. 
“I don’t know how you can impeach somebody who’s done a great job,” he said.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Boot on Trump - "An Illegitimate President Whose Election is Tainted By Fraud"

The once reliably Republican pundit, Max Boot, now says Trump should not be in the White House but rather the Big House, the Greybar Hotel. Boot even channels Oliver Cromwell.

The Manafort charges of tax and bank fraud do not directly implicate the president, but they do vindicate the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, showing that his inquiry is no “Rigged Witch Hunt” but a serious investigation that has produced 35 indictments, six guilty pleas and one conviction. No special counsel has done more, faster. If Manafort had been found not guilty, it would have been a massive blow to Mueller. Because he was found guilty, it is a blow to Trump
But not nearly as a big a blow as Cohen’s admission under oath that he violated federal campaign laws by arranging illicit payments to adult-film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy playmate Karen McDougal “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office.” For the first time since Watergate, the president is now an alleged co-conspirator in the commission of a federal crime. As Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said, his client “testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”
..In short, there is growing evidence that the president is, to use the word favored by Richard Nixon, “a crook.” Even buying the silence of his reputed playmates could by itself have been enough to swing an exceedingly close election decided by fewer than 80,000 votes in three states. Trump certainly would not have authorized the payments unless he thought it was politically imperative to do so. There is also considerable evidence, as I previously argued, that Russia’s intervention on Trump’s behalf affected the outcome. Even more than Nixon, Trump is now an illegitimate president whose election is tainted by fraud. 
The inevitable question is: Now what? If Trump had an iota of decency, he would resign — but he doesn’t, and prevailing Justice Department guidelines hold that a president can’t be indicted while in office. So the onus is on Congress to act. A responsible Congress would have by now already convened an impeachment inquiry. But that is not the Congress we have. We have a Congress dominated by political hacks and moral invertebrates who are determined to act as the president’s enablers and legitimizers at all costs.
...But the far more serious crimes of Trump’s congressional supporters do not involve personal peculation. They involve violating their oaths of office by failing to hold the president accountable for misusing his office. Some, such as Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), have gone much further by actively attempting to impede the Justice Department investigation into Trump’s alleged misconduct. They have become, in a moral if not legal sense, accessories to obstruction of justice.

And they have gotten away with it because the congressional leadership has allowed them to do so. Judging by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s (R-Wis.) cowardly and cautious statement on Tuesday — “We are aware of Mr. Cohen’s guilty plea to these serious charges. We will need more information than is currently available at this point” — there is no sign that the Republicans in Congress will ever provide any serious oversight of the Republican in the White House.

The voters of the United States must now say to this Congress what Oliver Cromwell said to the Rump Parliament in 1653: “Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government. . . . Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance. . . . Go, get you out! Make haste! . . . In the name of God, go!