Sunday, September 30, 2018

More Thoughts on Trump and the Inevitability of Climate Change

The revelation last week in The Washington Post was shocking. A lengthy report out of the Trump administration acknowledged what so many feared, we're on course to 4 degrees Celsius of global warming by 2100.

What made Trump's report stand out was what they contend that means, how they spun it. By now we're used to hearing that we're heading for a 4C future and we have to act - now - to slash our greenhouse gas emissions so that we can avert that end-of-civilization catastrophe. We must decarbonize our societies. We must decarbonize our economies. As Hans Joachim Schellnhuber put it, we need to trigger an "induced implosion" of the fossil energy industries. We must do this if our grandchildren are to have a survivable future.

Trump's position, however, was just the opposite.
...the administration did not offer this dire forecast as part of an argument to combat climate change. Just the opposite: The analysis assumes the planet’s fate is already sealed
The draft statement, issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), was written to justify President Trump’s decision to freeze federal fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks built after 2020. While the proposal would increase greenhouse gas emissions, the impact statement says, that policy would add just a very small drop to a very big, hot bucket. 
The amazing thing they’re saying is human activities are going to lead to this rise of carbon dioxide that is disastrous for the environment and society. And then they’re saying they’re not going to do anything about it,” said Michael MacCracken, who served as a senior scientist at the U.S. Global Change Research Program from 1993 to 2002.
My initial reaction was anger, outrage. This was villainy of the highest order from the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the country that uses 25 per cent of the world's fossil energy for just 5 per cent of the world's population.  America, the country that is on a hydrocarbon rampage, hoping to flood world markets with everything from thermal coal to oil and gas, conventional and unconventional (seabed, fracking, etc.). America, whose president withdrew from the Paris climate accord. America, the monster.

To vent, I wrote a couple of essays, neither of which I posted. One focused on our grandchildren and how, in very real ways, we're today writing their reproductive future. We are preparing for them a world that may be too difficult, too uncertain, too dangerous to even consider having children of their own.

Young people of reproductive age today are beginning to wrestle with that question. Is it fair to bring a child into this world when the future, their future looks so bleak? Previous generations, up to and including my own that begat today's young adults, were never put in their unenviable spot. What we mainly worried about was the prospect of nuclear Armageddon, the threat we ourselves lived through in the turbulent 60s and 70s. Nuclear holocaust, ah, no big deal.

The point is that the carbon policies we're implementing today will gravely imperil those future generations and will powerfully shape their lives in endless ways. And, by what right are we doing this to them?

The other spiked essay I penned looked at the honesty of Trump's admission. Is his really the only government that assumes the planet's fate is already sealed? Or is Trump's the only government that's willing to be honest about that assumption?

Have other governments, including our own, reached that same conclusion? How can we tell? They say all the right things, vow their determination to act to protect us and the world community, but are they just telling us what we want or need to hear? Are they credible? There's an easy, albeit chilling, test.

Let's begin with the powerful warnings we're getting from the scientific community. They've been testing the central hypothesis of global warming across a massive number of scientific disciplines - geology, physics, chemistry, biology (marine and terrestrial), botany and agronomy, glaciology, hydrology, atmospherics, oceanography, meteorology, epidemiology, medicine, and virtually every Earth science there is. One by one these disciplines have been checking in with their own evaluation of the central hypothesis and, one by one, they've been corroborating it. They've contributed a steadily growing mountain of research, their findings and methodology readily open to challenge by skeptics who now recede into the shadows.

What have they told us? They have shown us that, for the first time in the planet's multi-billion year history, a species, mankind, has shoved the Earth into a new geologic epoch, the Anthropocene.  This is not the planet's doing.  It is our own.

They have told us that we may have set Earth on an extinction trajectory. A mass extinction. We may be in the process of wiping out life on Earth as we've known it.

They have shown us, in the clearest fashion, that our dwindling hope for averting civilization-ending climate change, depends on slashing our greenhouse gas emissions, rapidly decarbonizing our economies and our societies. The prescription is there. It is clear as it is powerful.

We know where we're at, we know where we're heading, we have had plenty of warnings and we know what we must do if we want civilization to survive. We know that time is not on our side. Just recently the UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, said we have until 2020 to implement major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions if we're to avert truly runaway global warming.

We know that Trump's response is "meh." What about our own government's response? How is Canada's government moving to decarbonize our society and our economy? Is it on the side of Team Science or is it actually on the side of Team Trump?

The idea that, on climate change, we're in the same camp with Trump is going to offend some people.

Is this where Justin gets his ideas about flooding world markets with high-carbon bitumen.? He hasn't said that our planet's fate is already sealed but he certainly acts as though he believes it. And he's following in the footsteps of his predecessors.

This goes back to Chretien and the Kyoto Accords. We have had three prime ministers with powerful majority governments and not one of them has come up with any real action to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Chretien was dead at the switch. He signed us on to Kyoto but failed to follow through. Harper begrudgingly introduced watered-down targets for cutting greenhouse gases but also did nothing. Trudeau, after staging a wonderful photo op at the 2015 Paris Climate Summit isn't even on track to meet Harper's emission cuts target. It's almost hilarious. Oh, sure, we're going to have carbon pricing and that, kids, given the urgency of the moment is a smokescreen to excuse Trudeau's real priority, flooding world markets with high-carbon bitumen.

Trudeau is out to sell just as much of that climate-wrecking bitumen as possible. He's bought a pipeline at vastly more than market value, seven times by some estimates. They'll be offering customers a "too good to refuse" discount price that I call HRP or High-Risk Price. That's the ultra-low price they achieve by not refining their crud on site in Alberta and instead externalizing the environmental risk of coastal catastrophe, keeping it off the books in order to show a supposed "profit."

This, Trudeau claims, is the key to a green future for Canada. Yet not one dime of the federal government's hoped for bitumen bounty has been allocated to adaptation or mitigation strategies. Somebody gotta pay for the Justin Trudeau Memorial Pipeline and the market players don't want it. As for his vaunted carbon pricing and supposed deal with Alberta, that's turning out to be a non-starter with Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan flat out opposed.

Trump has admitted it. We're fucked. Trudeau is doing everything in his power to ensure that we're fucked while he spins outrageous lies about a green future for Canada. I guess sleight of hand makes Justin better if you don't look too closely.

Chretien, Harper and Trudeau, birds of a feather.

Just because those millions of barrels of bitumen produced each and every day will be shipped overseas, turned into oil and petcoke, and burned somewhere else, doesn't absolve us of responsibility for the damage they cause. Like Pilate, we wash our hands of the outcome as soon as the stuff leaves our borders. If we didn't, if we took responsibility for what we're putting on the market, how that will impact the environment and our own future generations, we would look like monsters.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Trump Administration Foresees Civilization-Ending Global Warming by 2100. Declares "So What?"

The Trump administration says sure we're on the path to oblivion but so what?  From the Washington Post:
Last month, deep in a 500-page environmental impact statement, the Trump administration made a startling assumption: On its current course, the planet will warm a disastrous 7 degrees by the end of this century. 
A rise of 7 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 4 degrees Celsius, compared with preindustrial levels would be catastrophic, according to scientists. Many coral reefs would dissolve in increasingly acidic oceans. Parts of Manhattan and Miami would be underwater without costly coastal defenses. Extreme heat waves would routinely smother large parts of the globe. 
But the administration did not offer this dire forecast as part of an argument to combat climate change. Just the opposite: The analysis assumes the planet’s fate is already sealed
The draft statement, issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), was written to justify President Trump’s decision to freeze federal fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks built after 2020. While the proposal would increase greenhouse gas emissions, the impact statement says, that policy would add just a very small drop to a very big, hot bucket. 
The amazing thing they’re saying is human activities are going to lead to this rise of carbon dioxide that is disastrous for the environment and society. And then they’re saying they’re not going to do anything about it,” said Michael MacCracken, who served as a senior scientist at the U.S. Global Change Research Program from 1993 to 2002.
Maybe this is where Justin gets his ideas about flooding world markets with high-carbon bitumen. He hasn't said that our planet's fate is already sealed but he certainly acts as though he believes it.

Trump has vowed to exit the Paris accord and called climate change a hoax. In the past two months, the White House has pushed to dismantle nearly half a dozen major rules aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, deregulatory moves intended to save companies hundreds of millions of dollars. 
If enacted, the administration’s proposals would give new life to aging coal plants; allow oil and gas operations to release more methane into the atmosphere; and prevent new curbs on greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air-conditioning units. The vehicle rule alone would put 8 billion additional tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere this century, more than a year’s worth of total U.S. emissions, according to the government’s own analysis.
Can a world leader thumb his nose at the very survival of human civilization and not be guilty of crimes against humanity? If they're going to condemn billions of innocents to die should their own lives, or at least their freedom, not be forfeit first?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A Court Chosen to Serve a Political Ideology Is Not a Court of Law

Then again, the United States is no democracy either so why should the US Supreme Court be held to the standard of a court of law?

The Republicans, including that thug in the White House, are utterly shameless when it comes to stacking the deck of justice. They pride themselves on perverting the highest court of the land by appointing reliable justices to advance their rightwing and corporatist agenda. And, by and large, the greater collective of idiots, also known as half of the American people seem just fine with the idea that their judicial system should be so profoundly corrupted.

In the States it's not just politics that is divided right and left. So too is the judiciary and the rule of law. Citizens United was a consummate expression of judicial corruption.

Justice, as revealed in the statue (above) of Themis in the Vancouver Law Courts, is supposed to be blind, serving the poor and the rich, conservative and liberal, without distinction or bias.

Kavanaugh was not nominated to fill Anthony Kennedy's curiously engineered retirement because he was an outstanding legal mind. He was chosen for his record as a Republican operative who would be politically reliable on the USSC bench.

"A Disaster for Republicans"

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace had nothing but praise for Kavanaugh accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.

Wallace summed up Dr. Ford's testimony before the Senate as: "extremely emotional, extremely raw, and extremely credible."

He called the majority's cross-examination format "a disaster for the Republicans."

“Nobody could listen to her deliver those words and talk about the assault and the impact it had had on his life, on her life, and not have her heart, your heart, go out to her. She obviously was traumatized by an event.” 
He added, remarking on the structure of the hearing, “This is a disaster for the Republicans.” 
For Thursday’s hearing, Republican senators hired a prosecutor from Arizona, Rachel Mitchell, to question Ford. Democratic senators, meanwhile, have asked their questions directly.

Kavanaugh got his chance to redeem his reputation this afternoon. I'm not sure what to make of the faces of the women seated behind him.

If the Greens Can't Stand for Election, Why Can't They Stand for Principle?

I'm not sure what keeps Green Party membership grounded.

Their party doesn't stand a chance electorally. Justin Trudeau put paid to that when he reneged on electoral reform, ensuring that Canada will continue to be ruled (not governed, ruled) by false majority administrations like his very own. Like the Conservatives before them they love telling the three out of five voters who don't support them what to do.

It's not clear to me that the Green Party is destined to survive. Unable to properly participate in Canada's political process by charlatans like Trudeau it faces a lingering, inglorious death. We'll have to settle for thin gruel alternatives like our current enviro-min, Dame Cathy "Do Little" McKenna.

That's not to say that Canadians won't come to appreciate the Green Party. They will but not before it's much too late to matter. Despite this government's shameless indifference, environmental catastrophe will carry the day and, as it does, we will be woefully unprepared for its impacts.

In my view the Green Party has misapprehended its duty to the country and its role in Parliament. It is pretentious for it to present itself as fit and ready to govern. It does not need a full spectrum platform that doesn't seem to have been updated since the darkest days of Harper.

Politics, we're told, is the art of the possible. That cuts both ways. It is not possible for the Greens to think themselves a contender to govern Canada (that goes for the NDP also). That's pretentious.

No one should know better than the Greens that time is not on their or Canada's side.  Climate change is already coming on strong from our far north to the 49th parallel from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific and it is going to get considerably stronger in the decade ahead. This is no time to be coy about exponential growth and a petro-economy. If the Greens won't speak truth to power, who will?

Stop playing footsie with the Liberals. Go after them as relentlessly as you would the Harper Tories. It's the Trudeau Liberals who are going to push that damned pipeline through. It's the Liberals who want to take Canada's petro-economy to an entirely new level.

Lose the fear of being seen as a single-issue party. Yes it's one issue but it is, by an enormous margin, the most important issue facing Canada, a truly existential threat. Own it. Nobody else wants to touch it, not really, not even the NDP. Own it. It's yours. You don't own any other issue so why spurn the most important issue?

Stand for principle. There's precious little of that on either side of the House of Commons today. Again, it's a vacant field. Occupy it. And, if that challenges your comfort level, well, you're in the wrong place and the wrong time.

Your Choice - Does Humanity Survive or Perish?

The planet, Spaceship Earth, our one and only biosphere, is in real trouble and it's mainly our doing. The question is do we keep doing what got us to this cliff edge and discover what lies just past it? That is the course we're on.

The Guardian enviro-scribe, George Monbiot, writes that, if we continue our insane pursuit of perpetual, exponential growth - what Justin Trudeau considers his top priority - we're screwed. come oil production, for the first time in history, is about to hit 100m barrels a day? How come the oil industry expects demand to climb until the 2030s? How is it that in Germany, whose energy transition (Energiewende) was supposed to be a model for the world, protesters are being beaten up by police as they try to defend the 12,000-year-old Hambacher forest from an opencast mine extracting lignite – the dirtiest form of coal? Why have investments in Canadian tar sands – the dirtiest source of oil – doubled in a year
The answer is, growth. There may be more electric vehicles on the world’s roads, but there are also more internal combustion engines. There be more bicycles, but there are also more planes. It doesn’t matter how many good things we do: preventing climate breakdown means ceasing to do bad things. Given that economic growth, in nations that are already rich enough to meet the needs of all, requires an increase in pointless consumption, it is hard to see how it can ever be decoupled from the assault on the living planet.
...I recognise that challenging our least contested ideologies – growth and consumerism – is a tough call. But in New Zealand, it is beginning to happen. Jacinda Ardern, the Labour prime minister, says: “It will no longer be good enough to say a policy is successful because it increases GDP if it also degrades the physical environment.” How this translates into policy, and whether her party will resolve its own contradictions, remains to be determined.
Canada is committed to growth. Even the Green Party deftly skirts the issue. Worse, as a genuine petro-state, we're committed to growth in the extraction, transmission and ultimate consumption of the filthiest, highest-carbon ersatz petroleum on this planet of ours and to hell with how it degrades the physical environment.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Where Michael Moore Dares to Venture

Like many, I have snapped up Trump tell-all books such as Michael Wolffe's "Fire and Fury," Isikoff and Corn's "Russian Roulette," and Bob Woodward's "Fear: Trump in the White House." I've also twice watched Jack Bryan's excellent documentary, "Active Measures." The books focus on Trump's election and his dysfunctional White House. Active Measures is a fine chronicle of Trump's 30 year history with Russian mobsters. They all have their place.

Michael Moore's new documentary, "Fahrenheit 11/9," is different. It explores who created the conditions that allowed an outlier/buffoon such as Trump to succeed to the presidency of the United States.  It sounds pretty good and it even has Glenn Greenwald's nod of approval.

Trump himself is a secondary figure in Moore’s film, which is far more focused on the far more relevant and interesting questions of what – and, critically, who – created the climate in which someone like Trump could occupy the Oval Office.

For that reason alone, Moore’s film is highly worthwhile regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum. The single most significant defect in U.S. political discourse is the monomaniacal focus on Trump himself, as though he is the cause – rather than the by-product and symptom – of decades-old systemic American pathologies. 
Personalizing and isolating Trump as the principal, even singular, source of political evil is obfuscating and thus deceitful. By effect, if not design, it distracts the population’s attention away from the actual architects of their plight.
I think Greenwald is unfair. From my reading of those books I was not left with the impression that Trump is a singular source of political evil. If you wanted to reach that conclusion, as I suspect Greenwald did, then perhaps you could find it but that's not what I or I expect most readers would take from them. Yet using Moore to slam Wolffe, Corn and Isikoff and Woodward is an unhelpful diversion even if it does serve Greenwald's purposes.

This now-dominant framework misleads people into the nationalistic myth – at once both frightening and comforting – that prior to 2016’s “Fahrenheit 11/9,” the U.S., though quite imperfect and saddled with “flaws,” was nonetheless a fundamentally kind, benevolent, equitable and healthy democracy, one which, by aspiration if not always in action, welcomed immigrants, embraced diversity, strove for greater economic equality, sought to defend human rights against assaults by the world’s tyrants, was governed by the sturdy rule of law rather than the arbitrary whims of rulers, elected fundamentally decent even if ideologically misguided men to the White House, and gradually expanded rather than sadistically abolished opportunity for the world’s neediest.
I'm not aware of many Americans more than 20-miles from Capitol Hill who, before Trump, believed that America was a "fundamentally kind, benevolent, equitable and healthy democracy." Therein lies Greenwald's straw man and the foundation of his argument.

The lie-fueled destruction of Vietnam and Iraq, the worldwide torture regime, the 2008 financial collapse and subsequent bailout and protection of those responsible for it, the foreign kidnapping and domestic rounding up of Muslims, the record-setting Obama-era deportations and whistleblower prosecutions, the obliteration of Yemen and Libya, the embrace of Mubarak, Sisi, and Saudi despots, the years of bipartisan subservience to Wall Street at everyone else’s expense, the full-scale immunity vested on all the elites responsible for all those crimes – it’s all blissfully washed away as we unite to commemorate the core decency of America as George Bush gently hands a piece of candy to Michelle Obama at the funeral of the American War Hero and Trump-opponent-in-words John S. McCain, or as hundreds of thousands of us re-tweet the latest bromide of Americana from the leaders of America’s most insidious security state, spy and police agencies.
 I didn't get the memo that any of these things had been "blissfully washed away" as Greenwald contends. To me, that's utter contrivance.

Resistance grifters exploit fears of Trump to build massive social media followings that are easily converted into profit from well-meaning, manipulated dupes. One rickety, unhinged, rant-filled, speculation-driven Trump book after the next dominates the best-seller lists, enriching charlatans and publishing companies alike: the more conspiratorial, the better. Anti-Trump mania is big business, and – as the record-shattering first-week sales of Bob Woodward’s new Trump book demonstrates – there is no end in sight to this profiteering.
The message is as clear as the beneficial outcomes: Just look only at Trump. Keep your eyes fixated on him. Direct all your suffering, deprivations, fears, resentments, anger and energy to him and him alone. By doing so, you’ll forget about us – except that we’ll join you in your Trump-centered crusade, even lead you in it, and you will learn again to love us: the real authors of your misery. 
The overriding value of "Fahrenheit 11/9" is that it avoids – in fact, aggressively rejects – this ahistorical manipulation. Moore dutifully devotes a few minutes at the start of his film to Trump’s rise, and then asks the question that dominates the rest of it, the one the political and media establishment has steadfastly avoided examining except in the most superficial and self-protective ways: “how the fuck did this happen”? 
...Moore could have easily made a film that just channeled and fueled standard anti-Trump fears and animus and – like the others who are doing that – made lots of money, been widely hailed, and won lots of accolades. He chose instead to dig deeper, to be more honest, to take the harder route, and deserves real credit for that. 
He did that, it seems clear, because he knows that the only way to move forward is not just to reject right-wing demagoguery but also the sham that masquerades as its #Resistance. As Moore himself put it: “sometimes it takes a Donald Trump to get us to realize that we have to get rid of the whole rotten system that gave us Trump.” 
That’s exactly the truth that the guardians of that “whole rotten system” want most to conceal. Moore’s film is devoted, at its core, to unearthing it. That’s why, despite its flaws, some of them serious ones, the film deserves wide attention and discussion among everyone across the political spectrum.

Another Climate Change Victim - America's National Parks

East of Los Angeles, about a third of the way between LA and Phoenix, Arizona within the Mohave Desert lies the iconic Joshua Tree National Park. It is named for a variety of yucca that you might have guessed is the Joshua Tree.

It's a beautiful, rock-strewn place that attracts hikers, climbers, mountain bikers and ordinary tourists out to soak in the scenery. The night sky is truly magnificent.

Unfortunately the park, like many American national parks, is in peril.
Most of Joshua Tree national park could become uninhabitable for its eponymous trees, glaciers will continue to melt away at Glacier national park, and many other of America’s most treasured beauty spots could be rendered virtually unrecognizable by climate change, Patrick Gonzalez, the lead author of the study, writes in the journal Environmental Research Letters. 
Even the tiniest of creatures are at risk in the worst-case predictions: the American pika, a small alpine mammal, may no longer be able to survive on park land. 
“We are preserving the most remarkable ecosystems, and they happen to be in extreme environments,” said Gonzalez, a climate scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. Gonzalez is also the principal climate change scientist for the US National Park Service but conducted and spoke about the research in his university capacity.
Alaska parks would see the most extreme heat increases, and the US Virgin Islands parks face 28% less rainfall by the end of the century. In Glacier Bay national park, the Muir Glacier melted 640 meters between 1948 and 2000. 
In Yellowstone national park, trees are dying because bark beetles are thriving in warmer winters. Yellowstone will also become far more vulnerable to wildfires. The area burned could be up to three to 10 times higher by 2100. Joshua Tree national park in California could lose up to 90% of the habitat suitable for its namesake trees.

Gonzalez explained that parks at a higher elevation have a thinner atmosphere that warms faster. Higher temperatures are also melting snow cover and making the ground darker so that it absorbs more heat. Parks in California and the south-west US have seen both high temperatures and record-low rainfall, he said.
Now I don't want to be a scold here but what lies between America's national parks in the lower 48 and those in Alaska? I suppose that would be Canada's national and provincial parks.

Parks Canada boasts of our national parks as a "natural solution" to climate change. Seriously, a solution to climate change. I don't know if that was written back in Harper's day but it sure sounds like it.

If you're interested in a little McKenna bafflegab, here's Dame Cathy saying a lot of nothing from the scenic backdrop of Prince Edward Island National Park.

Can Washington Get the Answers Ottawa Won't Give British Columbia?

It's not just coastal British Columbians who are fed up with being stonewalled by the federal government over the hazards of dilbit spills. So is the neighbouring state of Washington and they're demanding answers to the very same questions.

Washington's Department of Ecology wants the Canadian government to fix what it calls "deficiencies in critical areas'' of its spill response plan for a spur of the Trans Mountain pipeline that runs through the state. 
...It wants to know more about how it would respond to a spill of heavy oils that may sink to the seafloor, how it would protect endangered killer whales, salmon and other natural resources from a spill, and the initial steps it would take after a spill is discovered.

Washington's Ecology Department says it received 14,000 public comments after a public review of the proposed response plan. The comments opposed the plan's ability to address a response to heavy oils that are difficult to clean up once spilled, as well as the lack of details in the plan on species at risk from potential spills, such as declining populations of southern resident killer whales, it says. 
"We expect Canada to adhere to the high standards Washington has worked so hard to achieve that protect our environment, economy, and the health of our communities,'' says Dale Jensen, manager of the department's spill prevention, preparedness and response program.
Good luck Washington. I hope the Liberal government won't be so quick to blow smoke up your backside, its usual tactic with British Columbia.

Monday, September 24, 2018

America's Retreat From the Sea. Climate Migration Reaches the United States.

Climate migration is about to become a serious headache for the United States and its federal and state governments.

Migration is kicking off with sea level rise but that will be just one cause. Heatwaves and drought, particularly in the southwest, are expected to drive the population ever northward. While this is going on, America is expected to be dealing with an influx of climate migrants trying to leave Central America. How will a debt-ridden country struggling to cope with its own IDPs, Internally Displaced Persons, deal with migrants from other countries attempting to move in.
Millions of Americans will confront ...hard choices as climate change conjures up brutal storms, flooding rains, receding coastlines and punishing heat. Many are already opting to shift to less perilous areas of the same city, or to havens in other states. Whole towns from Alaska to Louisiana are looking to relocate, in their entirety, to safer ground.

The era of climate migration is, virtually unheralded, already upon America. 
The population shift gathering pace is so sprawling that it may rival anything in US history. “Including all climate impacts it isn’t too far-fetched to imagine something twice as large as the Dustbowl,” said Jesse Keenan, a climate adaptation expert at Harvard University, referencing the 1930s upheaval in which 2.5 million people moved from the dusty, drought-ridden plains to California. 
This enormous migration will probably take place over a longer period than the Dustbowl but its implications are both profound and opaque. It will plunge the US into an utterly alien reality. “It is very difficult to model human behaviour under such extreme and historically unprecedented circumstances,” Keenan admits.
...“I don’t see the slightest evidence that anyone is seriously thinking about what to do with the future climate refugee stream,” said Orrin Pilkey, professor emeritus of coastal geology at Duke University. “It boggles the mind to see crowds of climate refugees arriving in town and looking for work and food.”

Dystopia? Sadly, Yes.
A sense of fatalism is ...starting to grip some local officials. Philip Stoddard, mayor of South Miami, has seen a colleague, spooked by sea level rise, move to California and some neighbours sell their houses before an expected slump in prices. Stoddard and his wife regularly discuss buying a fallback property, perhaps in Washington DC. 
“Most people will wait for the problem to be bad to take action, that’s what I worry about,” he said. “We can buy a lot of time, but in the end we lose. The sea level will go over the tops of our buildings.” 
Sanitation is an immediate preoccupation for Stoddard, given the large proportion of residents who aren’t served by sewage works. “If you’re using a septic tank and your toilet starts to overflow into your bathroom because of water inundation, that’s a basis-of-civilization problem,” he said. “A medieval city wasn’t a nice smelling place and they had a lot of diseases.” 
Those living near the coasts will face pressures of the gradual (sea level rise) as well as dramatic (storms) nature but people inland will also be harried to move by climate change. 
Farming techniques and technology have improved immeasurably since the Dustbowl but rising temperatures are still expected to diminish yields for crops such as maize, soybeans and wheat, prompting the departure of younger people from farming. By 2050, Texas county, the largest wheat-producing county in Oklahoma, could spend an extra 40 days a year above 90F (32C) compared with now.
...“People will get very grumpy and upset with very hot temperatures,” said Amir Jina, an environmental economist at the University of Chicago who co-authored the research on economic losses. “Even if you have air conditioning, some areas start to look less habitable. By the middle of the century parts of the south-west and south-east won’t look attractive to live in.
“That insidious climate migration is the one we should worry about. The big disasters such as hurricanes will be obvious. It’s the pressures we don’t know or understand that will reshape population in the 21st century.”
The Rehabilitation of the "Rust Belt"?
Prodded to name refuges in the US, researchers will point to Washington and Oregon in the Pacific north-west, where temperatures will remain bearable and disasters unlikely to strike. Areas close to the Great Lakes and in New England are also expected to prove increasingly attractive to those looking to move.
... “As a country we aren’t set up to deal with slow-moving disasters like this, so people around the country are on their own,” said Joel Clement, a former Department of the Interior official who worked on the relocation of Alaskan towns.

...“We won’t see whole areas abandoned but neighborhoods will get sparse and wild looking, the tax base will start to crumble,” said Stoddard, mayor of South Miami. “We don’t have the laws to deal with that sort of piecemeal retreat. It’s magical thinking to think someone else will buy out your property. 
“We need a plan as to what will be defended because at the moment the approach is that some kid in a garage will come with a solution. There isn’t going to be a mop and bucket big enough for this problem.”
"We need a plan." Yes, indeed, don't we all?

As the American nation and each of its states will be affected, we won't be immune to it either. For our governments, Liberal and Conservative, it's "out of sight/out of mind," their standard practice of dereliction. Look, they'll unashamedly screw us over trade. How do you think they'll view us when they're getting squeezed by their homegrown internally displaced person migration?


BTW, if you think this is a futuristic problem, think again.

It Ain't the "Party of Lincoln" Anymore.

Just sayin'

When the Most Important Issue to You Is Not Important to Your Government.

To me, climate change is the most important issue, hands down. It is the greatest threat facing human civilization today, probably the greatest threat in the history of human civilization. It has already reached the point where some scientists, people who find their truth in knowledge and evidence, are warning we're on the verge of triggering a mass extinction event. Climate change is happening now. It is claiming lives now. It's only getting started. All the severe weather events? That's only the 'early onset' stuff. Imagine what you're going to be experiencing over the course of just the next decade. Hint: you can't.

And the most infuriating thing to me is how our government is responding to climate change - both mitigation and adaptation. How is it preparing Canada for the future that will be our kids' and our grandkids' inescapable reality?

Forget the Tories, when it comes to climate change even the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau is dead at the switch.  As David Suzuki puts it, "When it comes to the environment, the only growth industry in Ottawa these days is spin doctoring."

Michael Harris brands the environment the Liberals biggest failure.
When David Suzuki called for the resignation of Environment Minister Catherine McKenna this week, it was a far bigger development than merely asking a disappointing politician to step aside. 
Suzuki knows, along with everyone else, that McKenna is not going anywhere, hypocrite or not. In part, that is because she is merely advancing the prime minister’s agenda, and in part because the day of politicians resigning over principle is over.

...Just as Stephen Harper never considered throwing in the towel as Conservative leader when he was found in contempt of Parliament. These days, unless someone has a videotape of a bloody murder, elected officials hang on with all ten toes, no matter what they have done — or in McKenna’s case, what they have not done. 
Although Suzuki is not likely to bring about a change in the Trudeau cabinet by asking that McKenna step down, he has definitely not fired a blank either. What the country’s leading environmentalist has done by calling out McKenna is call out the Trudeau government on its signal failure — the environment. And that could significantly alter the coalition that delivered a majority government to the Liberals in 2015.
...Instead, and despite McKenna’s early promises of setting a bolder course on reducing carbon emission rates, Canada went to the Paris Climate talks with Harper’s targets. The whole thing turned into a group hug of self-appointed and smug planet-savers from 175 countries and the European Union. They were more than happy to endorse a deal that was not legally binding. It was rhetoric without the requirement for results — political Nirvana for the short-term thinkers who run the world. 
The Paris Accord may have been a temporary PR victory for the Liberals, but it was actually the ghost of Kyoto. After all, as prime ministers including Jean Chrétien, Harper and now Trudeau have proven, it doesn’t matter what target you set for greenhouse gas reductions, if you don’t do anything about meeting them. 
The great charade of Paris merely continues the history over the last 20 years of politicians doing squat about seriously confronting global warming.
If you have a majority government and yet cannot respond to a grave and imminent danger, a potentially existential threat, to your country and its people, you're an obstruction. You're unfit for office. When time is fast running out to act and our best remaining options are slipping through our fingers, you're harming the country and, especially, our future generations and by what right?

How does anyone support a government that turns its back on the safety of the country and, by its indifference and neglect, places our nation and our young people in harm's way? I don't get it.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Will Donald Trump Go the Way of Captain Ahab?

It was one of Gregory Peck's greatest roles; Captain Ahab in Moby Dick. Obsessed with killing the great white whale, Ahab was caught in harpoon lines and the whale dragged him to his death beneath the sea.

The American economy stands to be Donald Trump's Moby Dick and may bring him to a similar fate.

Trump has lashed himself to the economy, taking credit, every ounce of credit, for an economic turnaround engineered by Barack Obama. The irony is that what Obama wrought, Trump is working to wreck and that may backfire on him before the 2020 election.
Goldman Sachs predicted this year's U.S. fiscal outlook will be "not good" and U.S. household debt has been increasing since the 2008 housing crisis led to American taxpayers bailing out the big banks.

In 2018, experts say a $247 trillion global debt will be the main reason behind the next cataclysmic financial crash. Additionally, low wages and the U.S. national debt's steady rise are expected to drag down the economy.

Economists downplayed recent positive indicators such as low unemployment and soaring business confidence, reiterating they won't last through Trump's first term. At least one expert predicted that recent slides in housing and auto sales are perhaps the first step toward a U.S. recession. 
Murray Gunn, chief of global research at Elliott Wave International, [said], "We think the major economies are on the cusp of turning into the worst recessions we have seen in 10 years. Should the [U.S.] economy start to shrink, and our analysis suggests that it will, the high nominal levels of debt will instantly become a very big issue."

Experts cautioned that several economic markers have gotten much worse in the past decade, particularly in regards to borrowed money. The U.S. household debt of $13.3 trillion is now far worse than it was during its 2008 peak, due primarily to mortgage lending.
Central bankers have also more than doubled global debt as they have flooded national economies with cheap and easy money. In 2008, global debt sat at $177 trillion in comparison to $247 trillion today. 
We won’t be able to call it a recession, it’s going to be worse than the Great Depression,” economic commentator Peter Schiff said. “The U.S. economy is in so much worse shape than it was a decade ago.” 
A widespread drop in spending and income means that default rates will likely worsen in coming years. Schiff also blamed the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks in part for the impending crisis. 
“I think we are going to have a dollar crisis — you think the Turkish lira looks bad now, wait till you see when the dollar is imploding and we have a sovereign debt crisis in the US,” he told the Post. “The U.S. government is going to be given a choice between defaulting on the debt, or else massive runaway inflation.”
There have been many experts coming forward lately to warn of a looming economic collapse. The next one, they claim, will be more devastating than the Great Recession of 2007-2008. They contend the world is more vulnerable, less able to respond cooperatively in no small part due to the divisions Trump has created with his trade wars. Compounding that is fiscal weakness. Nations no longer have the funds to bail out critical economic players such as banks. If/when they go down again they're on their own.

Which brings me to a point Kevin Phillips drove home in his 2005 book, American Theocracy.  One chapter traces the eerie similarities in nations that rise to become globally dominant and then fall into decline as their successor takes over. This is rooted in the 'financialization' of the dominant economy that occurs when finance, insurance and real estate replaces manufacturing and trade as the nation's economic engine. This leaves the nation's economy brittle and very susceptible to recession. The low but stable return of the manufacturing economy bounces back to recovery much more quickly than the FIRE economy. Worse still, the FIRE economy has much greater difficulty recovering with each successive recession until, eventually, it effectively collapses. 

America could be at or at least nearing that point. The ironic part is that Trump prides himself on his trade wars and his reckless tax cuts for the rich that have both defunded government of essential revenues and driven the annual deficit through the trillion dollar mark for the first time. Trump has engineered a fiscal nightmare for the United States. Trump's Gullibillies will be first to the chopping block.

Trump has lashed himself to a whale of his own making.

Okay, I'll Bite. Why Do Evangelicals Flock to Trump?

I stumbled across a reference from their favourite book, Proverbs 6:16-19.

This seems to sum up the things that God of the Bible really detests:

16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: 
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil,

19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
What is that but a pretty accurate description of their favourite despot, Donald J. Trump?

When Political Correctness Kills

Who says the Right rejects political correctness?

They're fond enough of political correctness when it comes to climate change and, in particular, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. On that score they want reports that they can live with, reports that suit their political interests and leanings.
Warnings about the dangers of global warming are being watered down in the final version of a key climate report for a major international meeting next month, according to reviewers who have studied earlier versions of the report and its summary. 
They say scientists working on the final draft of the summary are censoring their own warnings and “pulling their punches” to make policy recommendations seem more palatable to countries – such as the US, Saudi Arabia and Australia – that are reluctant to cut fossil-fuel emissions, a key cause of global warming. “Downplaying the worst impacts of climate change has led the scientific authors to omit crucial information from the summary for policymakers,” said one reviewer, Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
Even as the threat of runaway global warming becomes more ominous and immediate, our governments' response will be to water down the science to make it "more palatable" to their real interests.

Petro-states, our own included, love to stack the deck especially when it comes to the hazardous future they're bequeathing to our children and grandchildren. The more they can dilute and blur the science, the easier it is to distract us with meaningless baubles like carbon pricing.

There's a reason why the IPCC reports are persistently out-dated and wildly optimistic. That's because the powerful petro-states won't have it any other way. They cling to those reports as though they were gospel or some other variety of widely accepted bullshit. That way the real science, the real results, the real research is safely blanketed, buried.  Real science then is downgraded to "worst case scenarios" no matter that, time and again, it's proven the most accurate.

For OPEC, the Future Is Rosy

Practically gushing with petro-glee, the world oil cartel, OPEC, is predicting a "massive rise" in oil production over the next five years.
In a forecast that will dismay environmentalists – and which questions the theory that oil company reserves will become “stranded assets” – Opec’s annual report significantly revised production estimates upwards. Most of the production increase will come from countries outside Opec, led by explosive growth from frackers in the United States, with China and India leading the increase in demand.

Opec expects global oil demand to reach nearly 112m barrels per day by 2040, driven by transportation and petrochemicals. That is up from almost 100m today and higher than last year’s projection.
Coal will continue to be be burned in record amounts, despite concerns about its impact on climate change. Opec estimates that coal usage in the OECD countries will plummet by a third by 2040, but it will increase by 20% in developing countries to reach five times the volumes burned in the west. 
The world’s airlines will be the single fastest growing user of oil, increasing consumption by 2.2% a year on average, to 2040. However, the largest absolute growth is expected to come from road transport.
If OPEC is right, that should be game, set and match for what remains of the fight against climate change. The carbon economy wins and that's game over.

It adds new significance to the warning of Hans Joachim Schellnhuber almost three years ago at the Paris Climate Summit that any hope of achieving the international target of holding global warming to 2 degrees Celsius hinged on the "induced implosion" of the fossil fuel industry. He knew our chances were beyond slim unless the world's nations moved to eliminate the global carbon economy.

It was in March of this year that the UN secretary general, Antoinio Guterres, warned that we had until 2020 to make sharp reductions in carbon emissions or else we would lose the fight against climate change.
“Scientists are now worried that unless accelerated action is taken by 2020, the Paris goal may become unattainable,” the UN chief told reporters at the world body’s New York Headquarters.
The Paris Agreement on climate change, adopted by world leaders in December 2015, aims to keep global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius and pursues efforts to limit the temperature increase even further, to 1.5 degrees. 
“I am beginning to wonder how many more alarm bells must go off before the world rises to the challenge,” Mr. Guterres said, noting that 2017 had been filled with climate chaos and 2018 has already brought more of the same. 
“Climate change is still moving much faster than we are,” he warned, calling the phenomenon the greatest threat facing humankind.

Recent information from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the World Bank and the International Energy Agency shows the relentless pace of climate change. 
For instance, the UN chief said, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4 per cent, to a historic high of 32.5 gigatonnes.
The International Energy Agency echoes OPEC's petro-optimism. The 2018 World Energy Outlook won't be released until November but the 2017 WEO is consistent with OPEC projections. While it has a very positive view of renewables and the electrification of global power, it sees carbon energy booming into 2040.

In the New Policies Scenario, global energy needs rise more slowly than in the past but still expand by 30% between today and 2040, the equivalent of adding another China and India to today’s global demand. A global economy growing at an average rate of 3.4% per year, a population that expands from 7.4 billion today to more than 9 billion in 2040, and a process of urbanisation that adds a city the size of Shanghai to the world’s urban population every four months are key forces that underpin our projections. The largest contribution to demand growth – almost 30% – comes from India, whose share of global energy use rises to 11% by 2040 (still well below its 18% share in the anticipated global population). Southeast Asia, a region covered in a separate special report in the WEO-2017 series, is another rising heavyweight in global energy, with demand growing at twice the pace of China. Overall, developing countries in Asia account for two-thirds of global energy growth, with the rest coming mainly from the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.


The Guardian reports that we are now on target to exceed mankind's total 'climate budget' by 2030. This refers to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions humankind can add to the atmosphere if we're to have much hope of meeting the 2015 Paris Climate Summit agreement to hold global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Put simply, our last, best chance is to slash emissions RFN or 'now.' Only, if the IEA and OPEC are right, we're heading in the other direction about as quickly as possible.

How do you like them odds, eh?

Saturday, September 22, 2018

From the "Spinning Out of Control" File

Japanese scientists think the key to predicting hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones is more weather stations at the top of the world.

Russia's new and improved submarine fleet will be ready for war in 2024. The Russian subs are expected to deploy hypersonic warheads that the Americans admit are unstoppable.

Billionaire venture capitalist, Nick Hanauer, says neoliberal capitalism is "going to end badly for everyone."

Deforestation? Agriculture is the chief culprit behind permanent forest loss.

Climate departure just around the corner? Earth will experience an "abnormally warm" period from 2018 to 2022.

Bloomberg reports that North Carolina flooding soaks US taxpayers for the umpteenth time. Yeah, baby. Love that socialism for the rich.
“We spend all this money to rebuild these homes, and we spend very little money helping people get out of these homes -- even when that’s what they want,” said Rob Moore, a senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Efforts to help move people move somewhere safer are seen as a last option, instead of a first option.”
California Commission tells coastal cities to start planning for 10 feet of sea level rise by 2100.

Bush/Cheney introduced Americans to "forever war" in the Middle East. Now Trump may have launched a "forever trade war" with China. (Bloomberg)  JP Morgan also foresees an economic cold war.

Weaponizing hunger. 4.5 million children under 5 face life-threatening hunger in conflict zones. Upwards of 590,000 could be dead by year's end without immediate intervention.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

Friday, September 21, 2018

AggregateIQ Runs Afoul of British Authorities

The UK's data protection watchdog is going after Victoria, BC data mining/manipulation company AggregateIQ for its role in the Brexit referendum campaign.
AggregateIQ (AIQ) was accused of processing people's data "for purposes which they would not have expected". 
The firm has appealed against the notice, which was issued by the UK's Information Commissioner's Office. 
AIQ is a small Canadian data firm that uses data to target online ads at voters during public polls. 
It was paid nearly £2.7m ($3.6m) by Vote Leave to target ads at prospective voters during the Brexit referendum campaign.
It was also used by pro-Brexit youth group BeLeave.

AIQ also received funding from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party and Veterans for Britain, amounting to a total of £3.5m from all of its pro-Brexit clients.
...Earlier this year it was linked to UK data firm Cambridge Analytica by whistleblower Chris Wylie, who alleged that Cambridge Analytica improperly acquired Facebook data belonging to 50 million people via a third party. 
Cambridge Analytica has been credited with helping Donald Trump win the US presidential election in 2016.

Mr Wylie told the Guardian newspaper in March that staff at the now defunct Cambridge Analytica referred to AIQ as "our Canadian office". AIQ rejects this description and says it is 100% Canadian-owned.

It's a Start - Maybe

The Trudeau government has directed the (still sketchy) National Energy Board to examine the impacts of dilbit supertankers on British Columbia's south coast. The NEB has been given 22 weeks to report back to Ottawa.

There is plenty of reason for skepticism. For starters, the Trudeau government was caught red handed rigging the earlier process, that was ultimately quashed by the Federal Court of Appeal.  Senior officials of government departments that were supposed to evaluate the project were gathered in a room and told their assessments had to support the TransMountain pipeline. Gee, that's a confidence-builder, eh?

And let's remember we're not dealing with a gaggle of government departments this time around. This is the Harper/Trudeau National Energy Board, Canada's crown jewel of regulatory capture.

Show me anything the government can study in 22-weeks. This is a government that, years on, still can't figure out how to pay its public servants.

The National Energy Board is now being entrusted with evaluating a difficult issue they refused to consider the first time around. They're going to need research and, wait for it, evidence. They can't rely on the testimony they rejected the first time because they refused to hear it. So what evidence will they consider and just who will be given a chance to refute it? Remember, just 22 weeks.

Without full and fair hearings this NEB report will be a pre-ordained farce, a smokescreen for a government determined to have its way and bugger the consequences.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Let Me Run This Through My B.S. Remover

I read a tweet from David Suzuki today. He wrote that we're not even keeping up with man-made greenhouse gas emissions. No, we're steadily falling further and further behind.

That got me thinking about our prime minister and his position that we can't take aggressive action on climate change because it could harm the economy.

Hmm, the economy. What economy? Oh yeah, I get it. He's talking about the "carbon economy." We can't let concern for the environment harm Canada's  carbon economy. We're a petro-state after all. A budding carbon energy superpower of sorts.

We must protect, nurture and expand the carbon economy. It's what petro-states do.

The Priciest Example of Buyer's Remorse in Human History

Is the hyper-expensive F-35 stealth light bomber a lemon? Have America and her allies been cajoled into buying a dud? Could just be.

When Lockheed began beating down doors to flog the F-35 it was selling the sizzle as much as the steak. Tactical invisibility. The invincible warplane. Muddled military minds were sold on the pitch that, however expensive the F-35 might be, no matter its many obvious limitations, this was the warplane they needed in their hangars.

No one paid much heed to the airplane's incredibly fragile technological edge. It was an absolute world-beater 20 years ago when it was ordered into development and production. It was designed to dominate a turn-of-the-century airspace against relatively primitive radar and aerial defences.

Unfortunately for the Pentagon and Lockheed, the F-35's intended adversaries, Russia and China, realized they had to up their game. They developed multiple-band radars and multiple-sensor fusion allowing income stealth aircraft to be located, identified, tracked and targeted at extended range. They also stole/hacked a lot of American and British contractor data - oodles of it - and began fielding their own stealth fighters. Then they began deploying a new generation of A2/AD (anti-access/area denial) missiles to target hostile forward airbases and naval units. It reached a point where no one could predict how the F-35 would fare in heavily defended hostile airspace, at least not until it sparked WWIII.

Over the summer the Pentagon's research agency, DARPA, started questioning the military's "reliance on increasingly complex, monolithic platforms" - i.e. the F-35 and its stealth big brother, the B-2 bomber.
Did the Pentagon just admit that stealth technology may not work anymore? Or that America must be ready to face a future where its airpower doesn't control the skies?

DARPA, the Pentagon's cutting-edge research agency, has quietly raised these possibilities as it searches for future technology to fight the next war. And stealth technology may not be the answer.

Platform stealth may be approaching physical limits,” says DARPA. 
The agency also admits that “our acquisition system is finding it difficult to respond on relevant timescales to adversary progress, which has made the search for next-generation capabilities at once more urgent and more futile.”
If that’s the case, then the next generation of aircraft—the designs that will eventually replace the F-22, F-35 and B-2 stealth aircraft—may not be any stealthier than their predecessors. Or, in the endless race between stealth technology and the sensors that seek to penetrate its veil, stealth may have hit a brick wall.
But DARPA warns against throwing out the baby with the bath water. The F-35's stealth may be wonky and its airframe horribly compromised but its electronics are truly amazing - still. Most of that stuff can be mounted in a more capable (speed, range, turn rate, climb rate, payload etc.), less costly warplane better suited to just about everything except a "first strike/end of the world" mission.

The DARPA report suggests it may be time to revisit the all-American notion of absolute air superiority everywhere and anywhere.
DARPA is looking for other ways that U.S airpower can accomplish its objectives even without air superiority, such as “lethality through a combination of overwhelming performance (e.g. hypersonics) and overwhelming numbers (e.g. swarming low-cost weapons).”
The message for Canada is obvious. If America is showing the first signs of buyer's remorse over the F-35, this is no time for Canada to jump in head first. We have our own muddled military minds to contend with, some of them recent retirees who have jumped aboard the Lockheed bandwagon to massively pump up their already hefty pensions.

A Dying Canadian's Unconscionable Predicament - Die Now or Face An Anguished Death Later

Our supposedly progressive prime minister (hint: he's not, not even close) didn't like the Supreme Court of Canada's per curiam ruling on the right to die with dignity in the Carter case.  Per curiam means that the nine-justice court spoke with a single voice and that's as powerful a decision as they come.

The Court ruled that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the rights of Canadians to death with dignity.  Here are the operative passages of the Carter decision:
"It is a crime in Canada to assist another person in ending her own life. As a result, people who are grievously and irremediably ill cannot seek a physician’s assistance in dying and may be condemned to a life of severe and intolerable suffering. A person facing this prospect has two options: she can take her own life prematurely, often by violent or dangerous means, or she can suffer until she dies from natural causes. The choice is cruel. 
"We conclude that the prohibition on physician-assisted dying is void insofar as it deprives a competent adult of such assistance where (1) the person affected clearly consents to the termination of life; and (2) the person has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition. We therefore allow the appeal."
This is the part that Trudeau decided to overrule:
"The appropriate remedy is therefore a declaration that s. 241 (b) and s. 14 of the Criminal Code are void insofar as they prohibit physician-assisted death for a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life; and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition. “Irremediable”, it should be added, does not require the patient to undertake treatments that are not acceptable to the individual. The scope of this declaration is intended to respond to the factual circumstances in this case."
Trudeau fashioned his own law, in defiance of the Supreme Court of Canada, to stipulate that the individual must have a terminal condition and be likely to die within six months. That's not the law of Canada. That's the law of Trudeau. He did it knowing that there are certain diseases that will prevent the afflicted from communicating consent by the time they're on death's doorstep thus consigning them to a cruel death. He did it knowing that there are people who would be forced to endure inescapable intolerable suffering for years, decades, because of his whim.

The Court is clear - grievous and irremediable, not terminal and imminent.

And now a Nova Scotia woman, thanks entirely to Trudeau, is left with the cruel choice the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that none of us should have to face.

A Nova Scotia woman who is choosing a medically assisted death says she will end her life earlier than she really wants because she's worried doctors will deny her the procedure if she loses her mental capacity to consent before that time arrives.

In order to be eligible, a person must have a serious illness, be in an advanced state of decline, be experiencing unbearable suffering and be at a point where a natural death has become reasonably foreseeable. 
They also have to be mentally competent and able to consent — not only at the time of their request, but again immediately before the assisted-dying procedure. 
Audrey Parker, who has been approved for a medically assisted death, says those rules are unfair and extreme. 
"I think once I've signed the papers and have agreed, it should stand. But I still have to worry that if I lose my marbles, that they won't do it. And then I'm going to die poorly," said Parker.
She worries the cancer on her brain may cause her to lose cognitive capacity, which would mean doctors could deny her a medically assisted death when the time comes. 
It's a risk she's not willing to take, so she has taken the drastic step of choosing to die earlier. 
"We know that these cases do exist and they shouldn't," said former senator Jim Cowan, now chair of Dying with Dignity Canada's board of directors. 
Cowan is calling on the federal government to amend the legislation to permit advance requests. He also points out that sometimes medication is so powerful, it impacts a person's mental capacity. 
"In order to qualify for medical assistance in dying, those drugs have to be withdrawn from the individual, and the suffering returns, along with the capacity," he said. "That just seems inhumane to me."
Parker's death is now scheduled for 1 November at her home with her mother at her side.

This government loves to pretend that it's compassionate and highly moral. Audrey Parker's premature death reminds us, yet again, that it's neither.

Are the Democrats and America's Jews Headed for Divorce from Netanyahu's Israel?

Put it down to irreconcilable differences. The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, claims that,  "Netanyahu is accelerating the pace of his country’s estrangement from everyone but ethnocentric and anti-democratic nationalists and xenophobes."
Israelis may still believe they are a chosen and embattled people, a light unto start-up nations, a paragon of morality and virtue and the most unfairly maligned country on the face of the earth, but Israel is having an increasingly hard time convincing anyone who is not a right-wing ideologue or Evangelical believer of these supposedly self-evident truths. For all the rest, in varying degrees, Israel’s stature has steadily deteriorated from good to bad to worse.

Historically, we are nearing the end of a 70-year, 180-degree polar reversal of Israel’s positioning on the ideological spectrum. Forty years of Likud revisionism may have obfuscated who did what during the fight for Israel’s independence, but Israel, by and large, is a creature of the left. Its founders and builders were fervently committed Zionist socialists...
...Israel slowly but surely drifted away from its leftist roots and embraced a xenophobic religious and nationalist right instead.
...For reasons that may include the right-wing bent of his coalition, the surprise triumph of Trump, a heightened sense of victimhood, an urge for vindictiveness and a feeling that he is finally free to act on his core beliefs - Netanyahu has pushed Israel further and harder to the right, thus alienating, by definition, increasingly large sections left and center.  
...Somewhere around 2015, Netanyahu decided to shed his disguise, to stop pretending and to reappear on the world stage as the spiteful right-wing reactionary that his critics always claimed was the one true Bibi. 
In the process and as a result, Israel has changed its tune. ... Nonetheless, the traditional, open-minded accentuation of its positive qualities is no longer the main thrust of Israel’s PR efforts. It now takes a back seat to holier-than-thou self-righteousness, constant vendetta against detractors, a clear-cut effort to delegitimize any and all criticism and a blatant campaign to equate it with latent or open anti-Semitism. 
Netanyahu’s Israel rejects well-meaning liberal supporters who object to Israeli policies for all the right reasons and cuddles erstwhile allies who support it for all the wrong ones, including a supposedly shared hostility towards foreigners, immigrants and Muslims, as well as so-called universalist, cosmopolitan Jews who look like George Soros or work to improve civil society like the New Israel Fund
If one can judge a country by the company it keeps, Israel leaves no room for doubt: It is consciously and willingly reneging on the Western liberal values to which it committed itself at creation and plunging head-first into the fetid waters of the anti-democratic cesspool its founders and liberal supporters so clearly abhorred.
...The gap between Israel’s self-absorption and willful blindness and the basic tenets of enlightened liberals will soon become unbridgeable. They already amount to “irreconcilable differences” that, in many countries, constitute valid grounds for turning a trial separation into a no-fault divorce. Which is all fine and dandy, perhaps, as long as Trump stays in power, Evangelicals remain committed, Republicans offer blind support, Sheldon Adelson keeps his checkbook open, right-wingers are ascendant throughout Europe and widespread fear and loathing of emigrating Muslims translate into default support for the country whose leader openly boasts of serving as the forward Western outpost that keeps them at bay. 
Otherwise, Israel will ultimately and inevitably pay a steep price for its foolhardy neglect of the liberal world. The first accounting may come as early as November 6, if the U.S. Congress falls into the hands of a reinvigorated Democratic Party, depleted of its pro-Israeli stalwarts, increasingly beholden to its liberal, left-wing flank, eager to flex its muscles and to start exacting its revenge. 

Fascism for the 21st Century

We wince a bit when someone calls a modern leader a "fascist." It can bring up comparisons with Hitler and that sort of thing. It's considered a bit underhanded even loutish.

But it's not concentration camps or killing fields that define fascism.

Yale philosopher Jason Stanley offers an updated and somewhat expansive definition of fascism. He contends that fascism isn't so much an ideology as a technique.
I think of fascism as a method of politics. It’s a rhetoric, a way of running for power. Of course, that’s connected to fascist ideology, because fascist ideology centers on power. But I really see fascism as a technique to gain power. 
People are always asking, “Is such-and-such politician really a fascist?” Which is really just another way of asking if this person has a particular set of beliefs or an ideology, but again, I don’t really think of a fascist as someone who holds a set of beliefs. They’re using a certain technique to acquire and retain power.

Stanley rejects the right wing claim that fascism is at the heart of nanny-state liberalism.
If you think about fascism as a sliding scale, ordinary conservative politics is going to find itself somewhere on that scale — which is not to say that it’s fascist at all, any more than ordinary Democratic politics is communist. But just as extreme versions of communism suppress liberty on behalf of radical equality, so too do extreme versions of right-wing politics, namely fascism, suppress liberty in favor of tradition and dominance and power.

Calling George Orwell. Calling Mr. Orwell.
In the past, fascist politics would focus on the dominant cultural group. The goal is to make them feel like victims, to make them feel like they’ve lost something and that the thing they’ve lost has been taken from them by a specific enemy, usually some minority out-group or some opposing nation.

This is why fascism flourishes in moments of great anxiety, because you can connect that anxiety with fake loss. The story is typically that a once-great society has been destroyed by liberalism or feminism or cultural Marxism or whatever, and you make the dominant group feel angry and resentful about the loss of their status and power. Almost every manifestation of fascism mirrors this general narrative.

The Ultimate Weapon - the Destruction of Truth

It’s important because truth is the heart of liberal democracy. The two ideals of liberal democracy are liberty and equality. If your belief system is shot through with lies, you’re not free. Nobody thinks of the citizens of North Korea as free, because their actions are controlled by lies.

Truth is required to act freely. Freedom requires knowledge, and in order to act freely in the world, you need to know what the world is and know what you’re doing. You only know what you’re doing if you have access to the truth. So freedom requires truth, and so to smash freedom you must smash truth.

Does This Sound Familiar?

Part of what fascist politics does is get people to disassociate from reality. You get them to sign on to this fantasy version of reality, usually a nationalist narrative about the decline of the country and the need for a strong leader to return it to greatness, and from then on their anchor isn’t the world around them — it’s the leader.
... I think the current movement of leaders who use these techniques (Vladimir Putin in Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, to name a few) all seek to keep the trappings of democratic institutions, but their goal is to reorient them around their own cult of personality.

Again, I wouldn’t claim — not yet, at least — that Trump is presiding over a fascist government, but he is very clearly using fascist techniques to excite his base and erode liberal democratic institutions, and that’s very troubling.

But the blame there is as much on the Republican Party as it is on Trump, because none of this would matter if they were willing to check Trump. So far, they’ve chosen loyalty to Trump over loyalty to rule of law.

Stanley's Call for Action.

We should heed the warning of the poem on the side of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which says, “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not Jewish. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.” At a certain point it’s too late.

We learned first from that poem who the targets are. The targets are leftists, minorities, labor unions, and anyone or any institution that isn’t glorified in the fascist narrative. And even if you’re not in any of those groups, you have to protect those who are, and you have to protect them from the very beginning. Simple acts of courage early on will save you impossible acts of courage later.