Saturday, March 17, 2018

Former CIA Director Takes a Skinning Knife to the Mango Mussolini

This is language you don't hear every day, or at least most of us don't.  Former CIA director, John Brennan, apparently enraged at the punitive firing of former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe, two days before McCabe's scheduled retirement, laid into Trump.

Former CIA Director John Brennan is accusing President Donald Trump of “venality, moral turpitude and political corruption” for rejoicing over the firing of the FBI’s deputy director.

Brennan responded Saturday to a tweet Trump sent hours after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he had fired Andrew McCabe. Trump has repeatedly accused McCabe of dishonesty.

Brennan tweeted to Trump: “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you.”

Meanwhile word is out that McCabe, like his former boss, James Comey, memorialized his conversations with Trump. Hmmm, more memos. I expect McCabe, his pension trimmed by Trump's vindictive move, will want those documents aired in public.

"Russian Roulette" - an Excerpt

When I buy books, I tend to buy used - on the cheap. At the moment I'm working my way through an autobiography of Frederick Douglas, the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, Darwin's "The Origin of Species" and a third century text, a field manual on the proper recruiting, training, equipping and deployment of a Roman legion. A bit obscure, perhaps, but easily had for just a few bucks a volume on the used market.

Breaking with my parsimonious pattern I dipped into my lunch money to buy a copy of Michael Isikoff and David Corn's new book, Russian Roulette, The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.

I've only made it through the first two chapters but, overall, I find the book pretty helpful. By now we've been inundated with leaks and news reports about Donald Trump, Vlad Putin, Obama and Clinton and all the bit players. Isikoff and Corn are rehashing a lot of stuff we've already read but they're presenting it collated, organized chronologically. The authors don't connect the dots so much as they present them in a manner in which the reader, with perhaps a better understanding of their meaning, can then connect for him/herself. What might have been a collection of anecdotal curiosities turns into a coherent narrative. Patterns emerge with somewhat greater clarity.

And then there's information such as the following excerpt that puts Russia's hacking effort into perspective:

"In February 2013, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of staff of Russia's armed forces, published an article in an obscure Russian military journal advocating that Russia adapt its military strategies to the modern world. The piece initially received little attention within the U.S. national security establishment. But after Radio Liberty published a translation, US officials took notice. Here was a Russian military leader proposing a new doctrine that could shape how Russia would engage - and do battle - with the United States.

"In the article, Gerasimov explored how social media had fueled the Arab Spring. He noted in the internet-dominated world there were new means for waging war: 'political, economic, informational.'  And these measures could involve 'the protest potential of the population.' In other words, information warfare could be used to weaponize political divisions within another nation. Gerasimov was crafting a doctrine of 'hybrid warfare' - a new form of conflict in which 'frontal engagements' by army battalions and fighter aircraft would become ;a thing of the past,' replaced by hackers and skilled propagandists trained to exploit existing rifts within the ranks of the adversary.

"'The very 'rules of war' have changed,' Gerasimov wrote. 'The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the force of weapons in their effectiveness... Long-distance, contactless actions against the enemy are becoming the main means of achieving combat and operational goals.' Gerasimov did not spell out what 'contactless actions' would replace ground troops. But it was not hard to figure out what he was talking about.

"The Russian intelligence services had become increasingly aggressive and sophisticated in their cyber hacks, penetrating government, business, and media networks all over the world. Russian hackers showed their might in 2007 when they blitzed Estonia. After the Estonian government removed a statue of a Soviet soldier, a massive cyberattack shut down the country's banking system, the sanitation system, and the websites of government agencies and news organizations. The country was paralyzed for days. And in 2008, Russian cyber warriors broke into the computers of the US Central Command - which oversaw US military actions throughout the Middle East - with an ingenious trick. Their operatives seeded bazaars in Kabul, where US soldiers shopped, with thumb drives for sale that were embedded with malware. All it took was one soldier with one infected thumb drive, plugged into a laptop hooked up to the US Central Command network, for the Russians to secretly obtain US military battle plans.

"Russia's cyberattacks were only one page in the Gerasimov playbook. Another was a revival of the old Soviet tactic of dirty tricks. And the Kremlin would soon deploy one against a high-level target: a senior US diplomat."

Interesting stuff and I'm pretty safe in saying it's worth a read.

This Is Real. Boston At Risk of 1.5 Feet of Sea Level Rise by 2050.

A report from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science projects that Boston could receive 1.5 feet of sea level rise (from 1992 levels) by 2050.

The report also shows that the rate of sea level rise isn't a linear constant but is accelerating as predicted by oceanographers and hydrologists years ago.

The data project's release comes amid heightened local focus on climate mitigation and adaptation, as Massachusetts was hit by three damaging nor'easters over the past two weeks.

On Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker stood in coastal Scituate — which had flooded during the first of those storms — to announce a climate resiliency bond bill.

Higher sea levels are likely to result in more coastal flooding.

As NOAA put it in an analysis this week, "a sea level rise of 2 feet would more than triple the frequency of coastal flooding across the Northeast, without any change in storms."

In So Many Ways a More Natural Fit - The Pacific Coast Collaborative, Governance for the West Coast

California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. In many ways we have a lot more in common among ourselves than we have with the rest of our respective nations. The states and province have their own group, the decade-old Pacific Coast Collaborative, to deal with problems too important to be entrusted to Washington DC or Ottawa.

The Pacific Coast Collaborative is an agreement between B.C., the state of Washington, the state of Oregon, and the state of California to work together on protecting the environment, boosting their respective economies, and as of this year, responding to the overdose crisis.

Following the leaders' meeting Friday morning, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was particularly vocal about the need for collaboration, given what he sees as a lack of leadership coming from the White House.

"We do not have a federal government that is protective of our state right now," said Inslee.

"On the West Coast, we know that climate change is not a hoax. It doesn't matter what foolishness comes out of the White House, the leaders on the West Coast are united in understanding science," said Inslee.

Inslee also told reporters his government feels very vulnerable right now, which is why it is looking to its neighbours for support.

"We have to recognize a reality that we have a brighter future and a cleaner future, and it's being realized under the leadership of your premier and we stand with him up and down the Pacific Coast," Inslee said, in reference to Premier John Horgan.

In so many ways we're in the same boat. We don't trust our federal governments and for good reason. We see our way forward aligned north and south, not eastward. It's not just climate change. It's also coastal waters and our respective fisheries, forestry, high tech and our unique Pacific culture that is really coming into focus. And, together, we've got plenty of economic clout. The four biggest companies in the world - Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google - are all based in Pacific states.

Our ties with our central governments are fraying. Ottawa and Washington would do well to understand they're the cause.

Facebook Moves to Block Cambridge Analytica. Too Little, Too Late?

Here's the problem in a nutshell:

“It’s no exaggeration to say that minds can be changed. Behaviour can be predicted and controlled. I find it incredibly scary. I really do. Because nobody has really followed through on the possible consequences of all this. People don’t know it’s happening to them. Their attitudes are being changed behind their backs.

“The danger of not having regulation around the sort of data you can get from Facebook and elsewhere is clear. With this, a computer can actually do psychology, it can predict and potentially control human behaviour. It’s what the scientologists try to do but much more powerful. It’s how you brainwash someone. It’s incredibly dangerous."

Facebook profiles – especially people’s “likes” – could be correlated across millions of others to produce uncannily accurate results. ...with knowledge of 150 likes, their model could predict someone’s personality better than their spouse. With 300, it understood you better than yourself. “Computers see us in a more robust way than we see ourselves.”

Is it powerful? Yes. Can it manipulate votes? Absolutely. Just ask Chris Wylie and the rest of the gang at a small Victoria, BC company, AggregateIQ. The "Leave" camp in the Brexit referendum used about half their total budget to hire AggregateIQ and the rest is history.

I asked David Banks, Veterans for Britain’s head of communications, why they spent the money with AggregateIQ.

I didn’t find AggegrateIQ. They found us. They rang us up and pitched us. There’s no conspiracy here. They were this Canadian company which was opening an office in London to work in British politics and they were doing stuff that none of the UK companies could offer. Their targeting was based on a set of technologies that hadn’t reached the UK yet. A lot of it was proprietary, they’d found a way of targeting people based on behavioural insights. They approached us.”

What was hatched in Victoria quickly was picked up by a far right American billionaire, Robert Mercer, and his partner, Steve Bannon. Enter Cambridge Analytica.

Who is Chris Wylie?

“He’s the one who brought data and micro-targeting [individualised political messages] to Cambridge Analytica. And he’s from west Canada. It’s only because of him that AggregateIQ exist. They’re his friends. He’s the one who brought them in.”

There wasn’t just a relationship between Cambridge Analytica and AggregateIQ, Paul told me. They were intimately entwined, key nodes in Robert Mercer’s distributed empire. “The Canadians were our back office. They built our software for us. They held our database. If AggregateIQ is involved then Cambridge Analytica is involved. And if Cambridge Analytica is involved, then Robert Mercer and Steve Bannon are involved."

Finding “persuadable” voters is key for any campaign and with its treasure trove of data, Cambridge Analytica could target people high in neuroticism, for example, with images of immigrants “swamping” the country. The key is finding emotional triggers for each individual voter.

Cambridge Analytica worked on campaigns in several key states for a Republican political action committee. Its key objective, according to a memo the Observer has seen, was “voter disengagement” and “to persuade Democrat voters to stay at home”: a profoundly disquieting tactic. It has previously been claimed that suppression tactics were used in the campaign, but this document provides the first actual evidence.

Cambridge CEO, Alexander Nix

Tamsin Shaw, an associate professor of philosophy at New York University, helps me understand the context. She has researched the US military’s funding and use of psychological research for use in torture. “The capacity for this science to be used to manipulate emotions is very well established. This is military-funded technology that has been harnessed by a global plutocracy and is being used to sway elections in ways that people can’t even see, don’t even realise is happening to them,” she says. “It’s about exploiting existing phenomenon like nationalism and then using it to manipulate people at the margins. To have so much data in the hands of a bunch of international plutocrats to do with it what they will is absolutely chilling.

And, with elections looming again - the US mid-terms in November, Canada's general election next year, the UK, who knows, anytime - the data crawlers are busy again. 

Facebook’s deputy legal counsel Paul Grewal wrote at length about the decision in a blog post.

"In 2015, we learned that a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge named Dr Aleksandr Kogan... violated our platform policies..."

Prof Kogan is said to have created an app called “thisisyourdigitallife”. It was accessed by approximately 270,000 people, Facebook said.

"In so doing, they gave their consent for [Prof] Kogan to access information such as the city they set on their profile, or content they had liked, as well as more limited information about friends who had their privacy settings set to allow it.”

Users who downloaded it were told they were taking a personality prediction test that was part of a "research app used by psychologists”.

While that was initially true - Prof Kogan is a psychologist - Facebook said the data was then kept and sold on to third-parties including Cambridge Analytica and its parent company Strategic Communications Laboratories. Another recipient was said to be an employee at Eunoia Technologies.

Facebook says it has been assured by Cambridge Analytica that it has deleted all the data they received from Kogan.  Yeah, sure.


Well, Kids, Uncle Donnie Has Plans for Your Future and They Involve a Lot of Carbon

Is Donald Trump about to unleash a fossil energy disaster on the world? CBC News reports that Trump is after nothing less than "energy dominance" and he's not talking renewables either.

Fuelled by technological breakthroughs and cuts to taxes and regulation, the United States is on target to become the world's biggest producer of crude oil in the next five years.

Let that sink in. The U.S will be bigger than Russia and Saudi Arabia.

It would be a remarkable feat and significant, too. It could clear the way for America to redefine its relationship with the world, minus a reliance on overseas oil.

The implications are huge, if hard to predict.

Might it bring chaos if the U.S. chooses to exit the Middle East? Or will it spur Washington to try to broaden its influence? Could Canada, Mexico and America forge an alliance to influence oil prices?

Such questions were purely academic a decade ago.

Now they're part of a broad debate around the potential for American energy self-sufficiency or, in the words of U.S. President Donald Trump, a new "energy dominance."

In fairness, this is a CBC "business" story but the decidedly fossil fuel friendly Broadcasting Corporation's discussion of "implications" are all trade and market oriented, complete with commentary from the Cato Institute. There'll be no whiny tree-huggers in this story.

It's hard to argue the claim that "the implications are huge" but they're not all that "hard to predict."

There's already a glut of oil on the market. Another giant producer feeding that same market will shift the supply/demand curve and potentially drop world prices.

When the price of fossil fuels goes down, usage increases. Another implication is the extent to which fossil prices impact the alternative, clean energy markets globally.

Anything that might worsen the glut and negatively impact world energy prices also worsens the economic viability of the Athabasca Tar Sands, the highest cost ersatz oil on the planet.

The biggest impact, however, is also the most certain. Increasing production and consumption of fossil fuels means sabotaging hopes for a low carbon/no carbon future on which depends our dwindling chances of averting runaway global warming.

Not for nothing did Hans Joachim Schellnhuber warn the delegates at the 2015 Paris climate summit that our hope for a survivable future depended on an "induced implosion" of the fossil energy giants. What he was calling for was prompt government action to speed up the transition to clean energy and shut off most fossil energy production.  Donald Trump seems intent on putting paid to that idea.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Is This the Face of "Deep State" Canada and Has It Corrupted the Prime Minister?

Canada's energy barons corrupted BC premier Christy Clark with massive cheques for campaign expenses. And she delivered. After what we witnessed here on the coast it's hard not to ask if this same bunch did something similar to our prime minister.

Trudeau rode to power on promises to our First Nations, on lofty talk about "social licence" and cleaning up a rigged National Energy Board, among other things. Then, once in power, it was like a someone flipped his switch.

What, Now It's Mattis In the Cross Hairs?

I thought if there was one individual in Trump's White House who was as unimpeachable as Caesar's wife it was Defense Secretary James Mattis. Of course until just now I had no idea that Mattis was a player in the Theranos scandal.

It seems that, once he retired from the US military, Mattis was on the Theranos board of directors.

Basically, their biotech startup was founded on the promise of faster, cheaper, painless blood tests. But their technology was fake.

Mattis not only served on Theranos’s board during some of the years it was perpetrating the fraud after he retired from US military service, but he earlier served as a key advocate of putting the company’s technology (technology that was, to be clear, fake) to use inside the military while he was still serving as a general. [CEO Elizabeth] Holmes is settling the case, paying a $500,000 fee and accepting various other penalties, while Balwani is fighting it out in court.

Nobody on the board is being directly charged with doing anything. But accepting six-figure checks to serve as a frontman for a con operation is the kind of thing that would normally count as a liability in American politics.

But nobody wants to talk about it. Not just Trump and his co-partisans in Congress; the Democratic Party opposition is also inclined to give Mattis a pass. Everyone in Washington is more or less convinced that his presence in the Pentagon is the only thing standing between us and possible nuclear Armageddon.

A Big, Fat, Stinkin' "YES"

That's how I'll be voting this November when the BC government holds a referendum on electoral reform. And then it will be time for all of us to turn on Justin Trudeau and tell him to pull his thumb out.

The Globe's Gary Mason previews what we can expect, especially from the now "barely clinging to power" NDP.

Those resistant to change offer mostly flimsy arguments to bolster their positions. Why fix what’s not broken, they insist. (Except the current system is broken). Or the detractors will trot out Italy, and the chaos witnessed in its parliament because of PR. Yes, Italian politics boasts many parties and is filled with much emotion and drama, but that’s Italy, and that’s its people, not necessarily the voting system it uses. For the most part, countries using PR are governed extremely well, in some cases far better than those using a majority-rules structure.

In British Columbia, you have die-hard New Democrats arguing against electoral reform because they believe it’s not in the party’s best interests because it will forever prevent the NDP from forming a majority government. And you have die-hard BC Liberals making precisely the same argument about their party’s electoral chances under PR. Their positions are not based on what’s best for democracy, but what’s best for their parties.

And if that isn’t a good reason for changing the status quo, I don’t know what is.

BC’s NDP government is inching closer to unveiling what the question (or questions) on the mail-in referendum ballot this November will be. Once that is settled, the two sides of this fight will engage in what is likely to be a loud and nasty dialogue. It always is when power is at stake.

Of course, British Columbians have voted on electoral reform twice before. In 2005, 58 per cent marked their ballots in favour; unfortunately the threshold set by the Liberal government of the day was 60 per cent. Four years later, there was less enthusiasm for change, with only 39 per cent voting in favour of it. This time around, the NDP has set the bar for reform at 50 per cent plus one, which scares those who want to keep things as they are.

I’m not sure there is a huge appetite to upgrade the current system. That might change once the Yes and No sides launch their respective campaigns, and rancour ensues.

So, this Brit Decides to Go Diving Off the Coast of Bali

And look what he found:

But, hey, did you see that ray? Pretty cool, huh?

Or you can just grab your board and go surfing.

With Everything Else, This We Don't Need.

New developments in mind control, yippee! Coming soon to a device near you. And you thought Facebook was a problem.

When John F. Kennedy was cut down in Dealy Plaza he was en route to the Trade Center to deliver a speech. This is a passage from the speech Kennedy never gave:

"In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America’s leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason, or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality, and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem.”

That ring any bells?

The thing is you can now watch Kennedy deliver that speech almost as though he didn't die that day.  From The Guardian:

You can only hear them now thanks to audio technology developed by a British company, CereProc. Fragments of his voice have been taken from other speeches and public appearances, spliced and put back together, with neural networks employed to mimic his natural intonation.

The result is pretty convincing, although there’s a machine-like ring to some of the syllables, a synthetic stutter. Enough to recognise, if you already know, that this is a feat of technology, not oratory.

But if you didn’t know? Perhaps you’d be fooled. And that’s why this breezy exercise has a darker side.

The problem is that these technologies, that can be used to help us, can also be used against us.

“Dual use” of technology is not a new problem. Nuclear physics gave us both energy and bombs. What is new is the democratisation of advanced IT, the fact that anyone with a computer can now engage in the weaponisation of information; 2016 was the year we woke up to the power of fake news, with internet conspiracy theories and lies used to bolster the case for both Brexit and Donald Trump. We may, however, look back on it as a kind of phoney war, when photoshopping and video manipulation were still easily detectable. That window is closing fast. A program developed at Stanford University allows users to convincingly put words into politicians’ mouths. Celebrities can be inserted into porn videos. Quite soon it will be all but impossible for ordinary people to tell what’s real and what’s not.

The potential for an “information apocalypse” is beginning to be taken seriously. The problem is we have no idea what a world in which all words and images are suspect will look like, so it’s hard to come up with solutions. Perhaps not very much will change – perhaps we will develop a sixth sense for bullshit and propaganda, in the same way that it has become easy to distinguish sales calls from genuine inquiries, and scam emails with fake bank logos from the real thing. But there’s no guarantee we’ll be able to defend ourselves from the onslaught, and society could start to change in unpredictable ways as a result.

Like the generation JFK was addressing in his speech, we are on the cusp of a new and scary age. Rhetoric and reality, the plausible and the possible, are becoming difficult to separate. We await a figure of Kennedy’s stature to help us find a way through. Until then, we must at the very least face up to the scale of the coming challenge.

Jeebus, where did I put that Soma?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Hey Donnie, It's the Ides of March

What's that sound I hear? Oh yeah, it's the sound of knives being sharpened.

I was struck when I watched Rex Tillerson give his farewell press briefing yesterday after being fired by Twitter, the ultimate humiliation for the former CEO of ExxonMobil. He wasn't speaking in his usual calm, assured cadence. His voice was shaky and it was hard to tell if he was struggling to control anger or shock.

The impression I was left with was this is a powerful man who probably has many powerful and loyal friends, none of whom are apt to forget Trump's slight anytime soon. I expect Tillerson et al will see to it that Trump's indignity is paid back.

Meanwhile in the Big Apple you've got Gary Cohn, Mr. Goldman Sachs, and his coterie who are probably also honing their daggers.

With Kelly and McMaster rumoured to be next in line to walk the plank and the FBI and the CIA still reeling from Trump's nut punch, the Mango Mussolini has few allies within the military/national security apparatus to race to his defence.

Oh yeah, and we can't forget the Congressional Republicans who are coming to see Trump as a major electoral liability. This president's political capital is nearing overdraught.

With a special prosecutor breathing down his neck and at least half of his children considered in some legal jeopardy, Trump has put himself in a terrible position. There's something he can genuinely take credit for.

How Trump Picked Up a Sharp Stick and Poked America in the Eye.

No one knows how this will end. When Trump decided to slap hefty tariffs on steel and aluminium imports he dragged out the "national security" claim to justify his actions. When he did that he ignorantly broke a long-standing taboo that may set off trade wildfires around the world. He has inadvertently undermined, "one of the pillars of the global trading system that's been in place since the end of WWII."

Since the United States helped cobble together a global trading system out of the ruins of World War II, countries have been been guided by a latticework of rules that determine what measures they can take and what they can’t. There’s one single part of the global trade rulebook, though, that’s essentially left to countries to decide for themselves: When to invoke the so-called national security exception. The exception gives countries an escape clause for any trade measures “necessary for the protection of its essential security interests.”

Most of the times countries have invoked the exception, which was included in the old 1940s-era global trade agreements and the World Trade Organization since 1994, there’s been a clear link of some kind to national security.


But the Trump administration has publicly gone even further. One senior White House official defended the tariffs by arguing that economic vitality is synonymous with national security and cannot be understood solely in the narrow context of defense needs.

We’ve gone rogue,” says one congressional aide who works on trade issues.
This gun’s been lying on the table since Act One. No one’s picked it up for a very good reason. Because it sets off a whole chain of things that you can’t control afterwards.”

The obvious risk is that other countries can now seize on the national security exception to justify pretty much any restrictive trade measure — and the World Trade Organization and its members have no clear grounds to challenge it. The WTO is considering whether to review Qatar’s complaint about other Gulf states, which would be the first time the organization has ever weighed in on a matter that was deliberately left to countries to decide for themselves. The WTO has already expressed concern with the U.S. tariff plan and its justification.

India, for example, has long bridled at international efforts to persuade it to end food subsidies and other economic policies that distort agricultural trade, arguing that food security is an existential concern. Blanchard and other experts worry that other countries could now brandish their own national security exceptions to limit U.S. agricultural exports, one of the healthiest U.S. export sectors, worth more than $130 billion annually in recent years. Indeed, China has already hinted that $15 billion in U.S. soybean exports are in its crosshairs in reprisal for other recent Trump administration trade actions.

This is what you get when you wind up with an old, mentally infirm president whose own Secretary of State calls "a fucking moron."

You Can't Squander Fifty Years and Expect to Emerge Unscathed

How long have you understood, I mean really accepted, climate change as an immediate, existential threat? For me I can only guess, 20 years perhaps?

Twenty years. It was a different world back then. The change over just two decades has been fairly dramatic. The signposts are easy to spot. The retreat of glaciers. The melting of ice caps. The loss of Arctic sea ice and the warming of the Arctic Ocean. The increase in severe weather events. The Polar Vortex and freakishly warm temperatures in the midst of the Arctic dark winter. The steady migration of species, especially marine life.

We've come to take it all in our stride. Many of us simply tune it out even though there really is no "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" option on this one. Even today there are many in the corporate and political communities who dispute the reality of climate change.

In today's Guardian, the executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity, Richard Wiles, reminds us that the warning bell of the danger of climate change was first sounded 50 years ago when researchers from Stanford laid it all out to the American Petroleum Institute.

The report, unearthed by researchers at the Center for International Environmental Law, is one of the earliest attempts by the industry to grapple with the impacts of rising CO2 levels, which Stanford’s researchers warned if left unabated “could bring about climatic changes” like temperature increases, melting of ice caps and sea level rise.

The year was 1968, and the term “global warming” would not appear in a peer-reviewed academic journal until 1975. Famed Nasa scientist James Hansen would not testify before Congress that “global warming has begun” for another 20 years. And the US would not enter into – only to later pull out of – the Paris climate accord for nearly half a century.

The Way We Were -

At the time, CO2 levels in the atmosphere stood about 323ppm. The planet was warming but was still well within the historical norm. Sea levels had risen by about 4in compared with 1880 levels. The report, however, cautioned that “man is now engaged in a vast geophysical experiment with his environment, the Earth” and that “significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000”.

Those predictions proved to be correct: by the turn of the century, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had risen to 369ppm, causing a temperature increase of nearly half a degree over pre-industrial averages. Today, virtually all climate scientists agree there is little or no chance the world can stay within the goal of 1.5C, the limit of what scientists believe to be safe.

The Attack of the Fossil Fuelers - 

To counter and slow down that effort to address climate change, the fossil fuel industry began its long and powerful strategy of climate denial and obstructionism. Even though they knew the science, they also realized that attempts to control emissions could seriously damage their bottom lines.

In 1998, as the first global attempt to rein in climate pollution, the Kyoto protocol, was headed to the Senate for ratification, API circulated what has come to be known as the Victory Memo, a detailed road map to undermining science and promoting denial of climate change. According to API’s top strategists: “Victory will be achieved when: those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extant science appear to be out of touch with reality.”

Governments Failed to Protect the Public, the Energy Giants Won - 

API’s strategic deception campaign was a success, which is why we now stand at the brink of the highest global temperature considered safe. Just what it will mean to cross that line remains an ongoing question for atmospheric scientists, but we’ve already started to get a glimpse and it doesn’t look good.

The damage is all around us, from hurricanes on steroids – scientists attribute 15-40% (8in-24in) of the epic rain of Hurricane Harvey to climate change – to California’s deadly wildfires which were set up by five years of drought, followed by record snowfall, then record heat that turned huge areas of the state into tinderboxes. In 2017 there were 16 separate billion-dollar disasters in the US, resulting in a total of $306bn of damages, nearly $100bn more than the second highest year 2005 (Katrina). While technically climate change did not “cause” these disasters, most of the carnage was aggravated in some way by climate change and the fossil fuel emissions that cause it in the first place.

Other impacts are more long-term and irreparable. Anyone born after 1985 has never experienced a month with average temperatures that fall below the historical norm and, without action, probably never will. Mass coral bleaching events due to warming waters and ocean acidification have rendered large swaths of some of the ocean’s most diverse ecosystems lifeless. The vanishing Arctic ice cap appears already to be affecting global weather patterns, and the loss of ice in Antarctica may have reached a tipping point that many now view as irreversible, a development that will require tough and costly decisions for coastal cities.

The Price We Pay For the Betrayal By Our Governments - 

It never had to be this way. But with each decade of delay and denial the impacts and costs of climate change have continued to mount. Now taxpayers are left holding the bill for a literal rising tide of impacts that pose the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. Meeting that challenge must begin with accountability on the part of climate polluters, and justice for citizens who did nothing to cause the problem other than drive to work and heat their homes when they had no other alternatives.

We can’t turn back the clock, but we can turn off the fossil fuel firehose that’s been pumping CO2 into our atmosphere and demand that those who left it running help foot the bill for the cleanup. Already we’ve seen cities like New York, San Francisco, and other coastal cities file lawsuits against climate polluters, seeking to recover costs associated with planning for and adapting to a warming world. With massive costs facing hundreds more cities and no remedy in sight, more litigation will follow.

The Fossil Fuelers have known for half a century the misery and loss they were going to inflict on us for the sake of carbon profits. They have treated us, our kids and our grandchildren, as their lawful prey and they've done it with the collaboration of our very own governments. Justin Trudeau is collaborating with them right now to extract and export as much of the world's filthiest, highest cost, highest carbon fossil sludge as conceivably possible. That's not a prime minister or a government anyone should be proud of. 

With Trump, Everyone Is a Screw-ee.

He can't help himself, not at his age. Donald Trump is a sociopath. He has an uncontrollable impulse to screw everybody. Facts, truth have no relevance to his modus operandi. His impulses are fueled by dishonesty, outright lies and an incredible talent for getting people to accept them.

His supporters, the Gullibillies? He might throw them a bone now and then but he'll tell them it's a Porterhouse steak with all the fixings and he knows they'll believe it. It's astonishing.

One way to help keep his con game running is chaos. He's a master of it. Chaos is Trump's default operating system. When the machine starts to sputter, scapegoat somebody and then fire their sorry ass out the door.

CBS News reports this morning of a major purge said to be looming. Targeted are Trump's chief of staff, his national security advisor and up to three cabinet secretaries. That would really spin up the revolving door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

A shake-up that some at the White House are preemptively calling a purge is coming. It could take down a chief of staff, a national security adviser, and up to three Cabinet secretaries, reports CBS News correspondent Major Garrett. It all depends on President Trump's volatile mood and available, willing replacements.

"We're coming back and doing it more so than we've ever done before. We're setting records," Mr. Trump said Wednesday in St. Louis, touting what he called record-setting economic progress.

But the turnover of top aides at his White House has also made history. So far, in the 14 months of his presidency, more than 20 senior administration staffers have either been fired, resigned or reassigned.

The next to go could be National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, expected to be replaced by former Bush administration official and frequent Fox News analyst John Bolton. Bolton is a hawk on Iran and North Korea, like new Secretary of State nominee and current CIA chief Mike Pompeo.

The man brought in last summer to impose order in the White House, Chief of Staff John Kelly, may also be on the way out, according to congressional and administration sources. 

With Pompeo taking over at the State Department and Bolton expected to take over the NSA, the hawks - the real claw and fang crew - are moving in. Absent Kelly and McMaster that will only leave Def Sec Mattis to restrain Trump's puerile urges. Lots of people are likely to be screwed, some of them screwed out of their lives.

Trump seems to revel in his role as ScrewMeister. At a major fundraiser in Missouri yesterday Trump boasted to the crowd how he screwed with Justin Trudeau when they met to discuss trade. Trudeau assured Trump that the US actually has a balance of trade surplus with Canada. Trump told the crowd he had no idea but simply insisted that America was in a trade deficit. Facts don't matter when your goal is merely to screw everyone.

And then there's the small matter of this year's White House "Economic Report of the President" that Trump had the cameras gathered to record him signing with his customary, puerile flourish. Trump's own report, validated by his signature, confirmed that the US does indeed run a modest balance of trade surplus with Canada.

With Trump there are no "win-win" deals which makes facts inconsequential. He's not out for fairness. What he's after is to ensure that everyone else loses.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

And the Arsehole of the Day Award Goes to - Deron Bilous

He's Rachel Notley's minister of economic development and trade, "Bilious Daren" Bilous.

Minister Bilous wins the Arsehole of the Day Award for referring to his fellow NDP legislators in British Columbia as "a bunch of shitheads" during a meeting with municipal politicians in Edmonton.

Bilous says he ought to have used "more diplomatic" language. Actually, what he ought to have done is pound salt straight up his backside.

"Quite frankly, ideally, we need to be more collaborative with the provinces on either side of us, although B.C. is being a bunch of s--theads," Bilous said, according to a report in the Edmonton Journal. "But we're going to do what we can to get the pipeline built."

The report said members of the audience laughed and applauded loudly.

It's curious that the more British Columbia wants straight answers about this hazmat crud Alberta wants to transport across and out of BC, the more Rachel's Notley Crew turn apoplectic.

This is not a new controversy. The devastation of bitumen spills has been going on for at least 15-years. Alberta and Ottawa who, under the tenets of the Precautionary Principle, bear the burden of proving their dilbit pipeline/supertanker initiative as safe as they claim it to be have done nothing (that we know of) to research the issue. The Royal Society of Canada says they've not answered the fundamental safety questions. Trudeau's own Environment Canada says exactly the same. They've had at least 15 years to do this and yet they come to the table empty-handed.

There's plenty of reason to suspect they know there's nothing safe about this dilbit business and they're keeping that knowledge to themselves. After all, why should they now get indignant when British Columbia wants to get those essential answers? The onus is on them and they aren't meeting it.

BC's Pipeline Vigilance is Backed By Science, Edmonton Journal, 9 Feb., 2018.

The Precautionary Principle is the Law of Canada, the Dragun Corporation, 27 October, 2015.
The Precautionary Principle Recognized as a Norm of Substantive Canadian Law by Federal Court of Canada, 7 Sept., 2015
The Supreme Court of Canada applies the Precautionary Principle, case comment, Castonguay Blasting v. Ontario.

Why Do We Stay In this Clapped Out Confederation?

I was recently asked to explain why British Columbia remains in Confederation. I really had to give it some thought but still haven't come up with a compelling reason.

I encountered this issue when I came to BC 40 years ago. There were a number among my then fellow articled students who thought this province should go it alone, forge its own future. At the time I found that offensive, an affront to my Canadian nationalism.  Fast forward those 40 years and the notion doesn't strike me as offensive at all. I now feel far more a British Columbian than a Canadian and I sense a deepening and irreconcilable chasm between the two.

Prior to his death (October, 2017), our legendary Rafe Mair, former MLA turned journalist and social activist, championed British Columbia independence. He argued that "British Columbians are no longer prepared to do what they're told." Our current prime minister, like his predecessor, goes a long way in making Rafe's point.

I find I no longer come close to sharing the values Canada now stands for – I’m not talking about opinions but a philosophy of life, a set of basic values.

As a core value, I value the environment above the desire of bankers and developers to make money and bought and paid for politicians to support them. I accept the need for societal sustenance but do not accept plunder in the name of progress.

The flashpoint is the Trudeau supported revival of the Alberta Tar Sands and the Prime Minister compelling BC to sacrifice both principle and its environment to the transport and sale of Tar Sands product to places that will be under no constraints as to its use. I believe Canada must accept responsibility for safeguarding water, land and air in places it exports products and services. I cannot be loyal ro a country that has no such values.


I have long felt more British Columbian than Canadian. When BC Minister for constitutional affairs working on amending the BNA Act to become the Constitution, I observed the perpetual second class treatment of BC and saw how no one cared that the Senate was an ongoing, deliberate putdown of my province, observed its woeful lack of representation on federal boards and commissions, lack of BC prime ministers and utter absence oF BC Governors-General, the disgraceful Prussian arrogant treatment of BC’s fishery by the federal government, the unthinking and uncaring expectation that in the 1970 FLQ crisis that it was fine to put BC, which wasn’t involved under martial law (no one would surely suggest that a murder and a kidnapping in BC by BC separatists, would have resulted in Ontario and Quebec being placed on martial law). The put downs seemed endless and started early.

My generation grew up learning that Canadian explorers were Cartier and Champlain, Indians were Iroquois, Algonquin and Huron, and some limey, Sir Isaac Brock was a Canadian hero. I learned about Captains Cook and Vancouver, Quadra and Russian settlements in British History in a private school and about Simon Fraser and David Thompson at UBC. I didn’t read a decent history of BC until from Dr. Walter Sage and Dr. Margaret Ormsby in secohd year UBC and the real history of the land of my birth until I was nearly 70 and interviewed Dr. Jean Barman on her classic, The West Beyond The West. I doubt one in 100 kids of my vintage could name the first BC premier or the rich Victoria merchants, without a suggestion of public support, who sold us out to Ottawa for a mess of potage and a railway to help Ontario grab our resources cheap.

The Meech Lake/Charlottetown Accords disclosed a basic gap between the Central Canadian elite – the people the late Denny Boyd called “Higher Purpose Persons (HPPs)”, who know best, – and those ignorant idiots in BC who refused to accept special powers for one province.

After Elijah Harper killed Meech Lake, BC said next time it won’t be the premiers deciding but the people in referendum and thus it was that The Charlottetown referendum was held and 67.9% of British Columbians said “we’ve had enough of your patronizing crap – get stuffed!”

Then Justin Trudeau decided, cross my heart, hope to die, to give Canadians a better voting system. To do it democratically, we’ll hold cozy neighbourhood meetings around the Country, then the House of Commons will meet, and the Liberal Party will cram through a reformed First Past The Post with a preferential ballot and presto! by an amazing coincidence, The Liberals will have its way and should carry Central Canada forevermore.

HPPs said there mustn’t be a referendum because, er, the people can’t understand these complicared issues and remember what happened when they voted on Charlottetown! In fact the HPPs were right for the wrong reason. Trudeau understood it was a Liberal Party Permanent Election formula he was after and wasn’t going to let those troublemakers in BC spoil it all for the elite, the HPPS as they did with Charlottetown in 1992. It was safer to break your word and lay low.

On British Columbians' values:

I am an environmentalist. When we lose our environment, be it the extinction of a species we’ve never heard of, a valley sustained by its fauna, flora and water or a run of herring it is a huge tragedy. That list, as you know, is endless. Reading reports from Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd breaks the heart.

Does that mean that I oppose all industry and development?

That’s a pretty silly question. We have to work, eat and survive. But to the Canada exemplified by Trudeau, development, without more than cynical word service for the values I care about, trumps everything. Bear in mind throughout the balance of what I have to say that the Precautionary Principle is the law of Canada.

Definition – The precautionary principle (or precautionary approach) to risk management states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public, or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus (that the action or policy is not harmful), the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking that action.

Start with fish farms. Recently disease spreading from farms to wild salmon was scientifically demonstrated yet another time. The evidence of assaults on our wild salmon by sea lice from fish farms and disease from farmed fish, not to mention damage to other sea life and to the ocean floor, has piled up for 15+ years, is overwhelming yet, in as few words as possible, what was Fisheries Minister and DFO answer to the plethora of evidence generally and to the latest report? “BC, GO FUCK YOURSELVES!”


The Alberta Tar Sands, the world’s biggest natural polluter, producers a tar like substance artificially liquefied, which if spilled, especially on water, is virtually impossible to clean up as it usually sinks too quickly to be dealt with, a spill defined as minor into the Kalamazoo River, in Michigan, in 2010, has not yet been cleaned up and probably never will be. The federal government has approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline to bring this from the Tar Sands through BC to Burrard Inlet (Vancouver Harbour) them taken by tankers across the Salish Sea, through or near the Gulf Islands through the Straits of Juan de Fuca to the Ocean.

The company claims this will “only” add 400 tankers a year but as the Duke of Wellington said to a man on a London street who hailed him ‘Mr. Robinson, I believe’, “Sir, If you believe that, you’ll believe anything!”

Spills are inevitable. So are tanker collisions and serious ones. Great damage will be done to our precious sea life, lives will be lost. And for what?


Many things make up a nation but in my view shared values outrank all the rest combined. These aren’t political quarrels I have with Canada, though I have lots of them. No, these are fundamental values I can’t live without and Justin Trudeau can’t live with. None of these values destroy industry but put it, and what we are deeply committed to in British Columbia, on a level playing field where he who would impact the very essence of our homeland has the onus of proving he will do no harm or none which we whose home it is will not accept.
British Columbia, my home, has been pushed around the 85+ years I have lived, worked, served, loved and, yes, loafed in her. To be called a bad Canadian because I want to protect her wild life and their habitat and don’t want to assist uncaring capitalists and their captive governments to spread ruin here and elsewhere has finally become too much.

I hope you understand but that’s irrelevant, “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise.”

May God bless Cascadia, a land of values.

Western Water Warnings

In 2005, former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed wrote a lengthy op-ed in the Globe and Mail on Canadian water security.  The final line was nothing if not prescient: "The reality is that fresh water is more valuable than crude oil."

Memo to Rachel Notley and Jason Kenney, truer words were never spoken and you would do well to bear that in mind when you try to beat up British Columbia over dilbit pipelines.

Lougheed, as possibly the last really intelligent politician to come out of the Wild Rose province, was focused on a potential American grab on Canadian fresh water resources. Hey, it was 2005 and climate change really wasn't on the political horizon. Lougheed was particularly concerned that BC might pursue large scale bulk water sales, water that Lougheed thought Alberta might come to desperately need.

That never happened, of course, but that other threat to freshwater almost everywhere in the world, climate change, certainly has. And now parts of Canada, also known as Alberta and Saskatchewan, are facing the risk of dire, long-term water shortages.

The risk that changing weather patterns pose for water supplies is one reason Canadian researcher John Pomeroy is braving frigid winter temperatures to climb a metal observation tower in the shadow of Alberta's Fortress Mountain.


"We have been getting rain events even in the winter."

Pomeroy, the Canada Research Chair in Water Resources and Climate Change, has been studying the snowpack in this area for nearly 15 years in an attempt to project both floods and droughts before they happen.

He points out that the snow in the Rockies provides everything from drinking water to irrigation for tens of millions of people across North America.

"The water from this mountain range flow into the Arctic Ocean and the Pacific and the Atlantic, so what happens here matters for the whole continent."


Pomeroy says a warming climate means the mountain snowpack is melting faster and earlier. As a result, the water is moving through river basins more quickly than in the past and leaving them parched by the end of summer.

It's a situation that, if prolonged, could lead to the kind of water shortages being seen in Cape Town and parts of California in recent years.

"That kind of extreme water shortage hasn't happened here, but it's not impossible that it can," he says, noting that the shortages facing Cape Town today were once unimaginable.

...Pomeroy brushes the snow off an instrument buried under half a metre of snow. Amidst all this snow, it's hard to believe that this part of the world actually gets less annual precipitation than Cape Town.

Pomeroy says that fact makes it all the more important to start preparing for future water shortages in Canada.

"I think Cape Town is a terrible event for that city and for Africa, but it can be a wake-up call for the rest of the developed world that we can have severe water shortages."

It's not as though the West doesn't have options.  Snowpacks are becoming less reliable but the annual precipitation isn't, at least not to the west of the Rockies. The mountain ranges that form the natural border between British Columbia and the Prairies are a major rain catcher. Moisture-laden clouds off the Pacific drop much of that as precipitation, rain, on the British Columbia side. That's the water Peter Lougheed wanted protected for Alberta's future needs.

Alberta, with Ottawa's collusion, is attempting to strongarm British Columbia now. It's probably a good time for them to rethink that on a long-term, strategic basis.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tillerson's Firing Isn't the Problem. It's His Replacement That's the Scary Part.

They're changing the guard at Trump's state department. Rex Tillerson got the boot this morning in a manner befitting the Mango Mussolini's notion of presidential propriety. He read about it, like everyone else, in a Trump early morning tweet.  When it comes to assholery, Trump never ceases to amaze.

Rex Tillerson never set the international relations community on fire. He never set anything on fire. America and the world might not be so lucky when his successor takes the helm at State.

Mike Pompeo, an extremely intelligent but even more extremely messed up man. First in his class at West Point and a law degree from Harvard. A cavalry officer, then lawyer, then entrepreneur, then congressman, Pompeo lists a net worth of a curiously minuscule $345,000.

Here are a few of his more worrisome attitudes, courtesy of WikiPedia:

On personal privacy and government surveillance:

Pompeo stated that "Congress should pass a law re-establishing collection of all metadata, and combining it with publicly available financial and lifestyle information into a comprehensive, searchable database. Legal and bureaucratic impediments to surveillance should be removed. That includes Presidential Policy Directive-28, which bestows privacy rights on foreigners and imposes burdensome requirements to justify data collection.

On terrorism, prisons and interrogations:

Pompeo opposes closing Guantanamo Bay detention camp. After a 2013 visit to the prison, Pompeo said, of the prisoners who were on hunger strike, "It looked to me like a lot of them had put on weight."

Pompeo criticized the Obama administration's decision to end secret prisons and its requirement that all interrogators adhere to anti-torture laws.

On Edward Snowden:

In February 2016, Pompeo said Edward Snowden "should be brought back from Russia and given due process, and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence".

On the environment and climate change:

Speaking about climate change in 2013, Pompeo said: "There are scientists who think lots of different things about climate change. There's some who think we're warming, there's some who think we're cooling, there's some who think that the last 16 years have shown a pretty stable climate environment."

Pompeo has stated, "Federal policy should be about the American family, not worshipping a radical environmental agenda." He has referred to the Obama administration's environment and climate change plans as "damaging" and "radical". He opposes the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by the United States, and supports eliminating the United States federal register of greenhouse gas emissions.

Pompeo signed the No Climate Tax pledge of Americans for Prosperity.

He has called for the permanent elimination of wind power production tax credits, calling them an "enormous government handout".

In December 2015, as a member of the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Pompeo voted for two resolutions disapproving of the Clean Power Plan implemented by the United States Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration.

On Social Conservatism:

Pompeo has stated that life begins at conception and believes that abortions should be allowed only when necessary to save the life of the mother.[61] In 2011, Pompeo voted for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which would have banned federal health coverage that includes abortion. Also in 2011, he voted for a prohibition on funding the United Nations Population Fund.

Pompeo opposed same-sex marriage and had sponsored bills to let states prevent same-sex couples from marrying.

On Religion:

Pompeo is an evangelical Presbyterian. John Knox must be rolling in his grave.

Pompeo is a Christian religious conservative whose beliefs inform his politics. He spoke at length of how religion informs his political ideals on video at the Summit Church God and Country Rally 2015. In that speech he approvingly quoted the Robert Russell/Joseph Wright prayer which contained "We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism. We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle." In his own words, he said "We are engaged in a struggle against radical Islam, the kind of struggle that this country has not faced since its great wars."

Then there's the little matter of Korea, North Korea that is, whose leader, Kim Jong Un is supposed to sit down for a chin wag with the Cheeto Benito. Trump's choice of Pompeo as America's top diplomat might just have thrown a wrench into those gears.

Pompeo desires regime change in North Korea. In July 2017, Pompeo said "It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that, but the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today."

Chances are Kim knows about Pompeo and it's hard to imagine he'll be encouraged to make concessions to Trump after this appointment.

At Foreign Policy, they summed up Pompeo's appointment with eloquent brevity:

"When it comes to Trump’s foreign policy, things will get worse before they get better."


You May Have Thought As Much. The Arctic's Freakishly Warm Winters are Causing Our Freakishly Cold Winters.

Don't sell that old snowblower just yet.

The last three or four years have seen freakishly warm spells in the dark of the Arctic winter. Temperatures 35 degrees Celsius have been recorded in the high north, well above the freezing point.

Meanwhile Europe and much of North America have been living with freakishly cold conditions.

You might have wondered if one had something to do with the other? Well we now know.

A sharp increase in temperatures across the Arctic since the early 1990s has coincided with an uptick in abnormally cold snaps in winter, particularly in the eastern US, according to new research that analyzed temperature data from 1950 onwards.

Extreme cold winter weather is up to four times more likely when temperatures in the Arctic are unusually high, the study found. Researchers compared daily temperatures from across the Arctic region with something called the accumulated winter season severity index, which grades winter weather based on temperature, snow fall and snow depth, across 12 US cities.

“There’s a remarkably strong correlation between a warm Arctic and cold winter weather further south,” said Judah Cohen, a climatologist at Atmospheric and Environmental Research. “It’s a complex story – global warming is contributing to milder temperatures but is also having unforeseen consequences such as this.”

The Arctic has just experienced its toastiest winter on record, with parts of the region 20C (68F) warmer than the long-term average, a situation scientists have variously described as “crazy,” “weird,” and “simply shocking”. The far north latitudes are warming around twice as quickly as the global average, diminishing glaciers and sea ice and imperiling creatures such as polar bears.

Two large winter storms recently swept the US east coast in less than a week, unloading up to three inches of snow per hour in places, resulting in several deaths, thousands of cancelled flights, closed schools and snarled traffic.

The cold front even reached Florida, contributing to a recent surge in manatee deaths. So far this year, 166 of the marine mammals have been found dead off the state’s coast, with stress from the cold the leading cause of mortality. “Manatees may join polar bears as one of the first iconic victims of extinction in the wild from climate change,” said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

The US storms follow freezing winds from Siberia – dubbed the ‘beast from the east’ – that battered parts of Europe, with the British army deployed to help liberate hundreds of stranded drivers on UK motorways.

“This winter is a great example of what we can expect from climate change,” said Cohen. “In the US we had the ‘bomb cyclone’ in January, followed by July-like warm weather in February that I’d never seen before. And now we’ve had a parade of powerful winter storms and the beast from the east. It’s mind boggling.”

The Tyee Outs Trudeau on the Green Pipeline Scam

Justin Trudeau sticks tenaciously to his story that the Kinder Morgan dilbit pipeline is the price we must pay for a low-carbon Canada. What Trudeau is referring to is his flaccid (yes, as in "limp dick") carbon pricing scheme that only serves to demonstrate how disingenuous this prime minister is when it comes to tackling climate change.

Writing in The Tyee, Mitchell Anderson reveals the underhanded nature of Justin Trudeau.

Politics have been described as the art of the possible and in fairness, Notley is in a bind. Is it possible that a woman could be re-elected as NDP premier in a province whose national emblem might be truck nuts? Recall the mob gathered on the legislature lawn chanting, “lock her up” in an embarrassing display of endemic dumbass.

In spite of steady leadership on many issues, a December poll showed only one-third of voters approved of her performance as premier.

What to do? Picking a fight with B.C. over pipelines is an easy win, supported by 82 per cent of Albertans. However, this gratuitous gambit may not carry the day. United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney leads by 14 per cent in the polls and offers Albertans a more authentic version of the same oil industry policies that squandered a vast resource bounty with virtually nothing to show for it other than a $45 billion debt.

And what about our prime minister? Where does he stand? In spite of his aggressive eco-branding, Justin Trudeau has been unabashedly pro-pipeline. Look no further than this remarkably fawning speech he delivered to the energy industry in Houston, Texas last year, beginning with a pointed mea culpa about his father’s National Energy Program. “It was a failure… The NEP introduced a level of state control over energy that hurt growth and jobs.”

Trudeau went on to brag to about delivering three new pipeline approvals for unrefined bitumen from Alberta. “I make no bones about it. We’re very proud of this… No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there.”

Extracting, transporting, refining and burning those 173 billion barrels of bitumen will dump some 122 billion tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere, yet Trudeau maintains even to Bill Nye that this is the best way to fight climate change.

Interestingly, there is a missing video potion of his speech at the 11:35 mark. A written transcript reveals the omitted words: “And let me be very clear. We could not have moved forward on pipelines had we not acted on climate.”

Trudeau seems to be intimating to his Texan hosts that the proposed federal carbon-pricing scheme was the required policy fig leaf to push through contentious pipeline approvals. “Our immediate predecessors tried a different route for 10 years - to ignore the environment. It didn’t work any more than the NEP of the 1980s worked. They couldn’t move forward on big energy projects.” If oil-friendly former prime minister Stephen Harper couldn’t deliver pipelines, perhaps the influential power brokers within the petroleum sector merely switched horses. 

But what about those subsidies to the bitumen barons?

It seems the oil industry “spear carriers” have hit the mark with the current government. On the campaign trail, Trudeau specifically pledged on page five of the Liberals’ environment platform that “we will fulfill Canada’s G-20 commitment to phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.”

In 2017, Auditor General Michael Ferguson tried to investigate what progress, if any, was being made in phasing out such public gifts to the oil and gas sector but was stonewalled by the finance department, which refused to provide the required documents. However, Ferguson was able to conclude that the Trudeau government had failed to even define how it interpreted this commitment.
Efforts to obscure Trudeau’s inaction on this file seem to have reached absurd levels. A scheduled public parliamentary committee hearing on energy subsidies last October was abruptly declared in camera by Liberal co-chair Alexandra Mend├Ęs, ostensibly to put witnesses “at ease.” The cryptic minutes from this suddenly secret meeting state, “It was agreed… that consideration of Report 7, Fossil Fuel Subsidies, of the Spring 2017 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada be postponed until further notice.” Problem solved.

Instead of eliminating the many federal petroleum subsidies, totalling almost $1.3 billion annually, the Trudeau government has locked some in until 2025. Direct government gifts to the fossil fuel sector top $3.3 billion when provincial subsidies are included - an amount that works out to about $19 per tonne of CO2 emissions or $237 per Canadian household.

Photo: Kinder Morgan's compound in Vancouver's inner harbour cordoned off with razor wire, the stuff that's usually found at concentration camps and prisons. Nice touch. Lets us know where we stand. Keeps us in our place - even on our waters.

David Frum Thinks He Knows Why Tillerson Got the Abrupt Heave-Ho this Morning

Did Putin order Trump to axe secretary of state Rex Tillerson or does Trump just know his master's will.

Why did Tillerson get the heave ho this morning via Trump's morning Twitter dump? Why was the State Department so quick in announcing that Tillerson only learned about his firing just like everyone else, via Trump's tweet?

And, this being the Trump administration, the logical question becomes how does this tie in with Russia? Everything else connects with Russia. So, what has Tillerson done recently that might offend America's senior president, Vladimir Putin?  C'mon, if you read the news you know. Bingo! He promised sanctions against the Russians for the nerve agent poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England a week ago.

Eject, Eject, Eject.

Atlantic editor, David Frum, looks at the implausible accounts of Tillerson's firing pouring out of the White House.

The White House’s account of the Tillerson firing collapsed within minutes.

Senior administration officials told outlets including The Washington Post and CNN that Tillerson had been told he would be dismissed on Friday, March 9.

Within the hour, the State Department issued a statement insisting that Tillerson “had every intention of remaining” and “did not speak to the President this morning and is unaware of the reason.” CNN reported that Tillerson had received a call from White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on Friday night indicating that he would be replaced that did not specify timing; a senior White House official told the network that it was Trump himself who had suddenly decided to pull the trigger on Tuesday morning. Tillerson learned of his actual firing the same way everybody else did: By reading about it on Twitter shortly after 8:44 a.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, March 13.

A lot turns on that timing. On March 12, Tillerson had backed the British government’s accusation that Russia was culpable for a nerve-agent attack on United Kingdom soil. If Tillerson had been fired March 9, then his words of support for Britain could not explain his firing three days before. But if the White House was lying about the timing, it could be lying about the motive.

And since it now seems all but certain that the White House was lying about the timing, it looks more probable that it was lying about the motive too.


Trump is rejecting the consensus view of the U.K. and U.S. intelligence communities about an act of Russian aggression—and, if his past behavior is any indication, preparing the way for his own determination to do nothing.

It echoes the approach he took toward Russian intervention in the U.S. election to help elect him in 2016: Feign uncertainty about what is not uncertain in order to justify inaction.


Yesterday, the Republicans on the House intelligence committee announced that they had concluded the investigation of the Russian interference—and would soon publish a report acquitting Trump of collusion. Bad luck for them to release the report on the very day that Trump again demonstrated that something is very, very wrong in the Trump-Russia relationship. It’s possible to imagine innocent explanations. And it’s easy to list the plausible explanations. Ominously for the western alliance and the security of the United States, those two sets no longer overlap at all.

Tillerson Out. Fired With All the Class Donald Trump Could Muster

In the United States, the Secretary of State is sort of a big deal. He/she is in the president's inner circle, the "long pants" team. They also become a household name. I'll bet you can name quite a few. Start with Thomas Jefferson. He held the job first. Don't forget Madelaine, Condoleeza or Hillary. Colin, Henry and John Kerry. They usually seem to last one term, maybe less.

Then there's Rex Tillerson, the Trump administration's former secretary of state. Rex, who never denied having called Trump a "f#@king moron" at a staff meeting, went the way of so many Trump aides this morning. The Cheeto Benito fired Tillerson's ass right out the door and, naturally, he did it in a tweet.

Here's the thing. The world new before Tillerson did that is unless Tillerson was cruising Twitter. The State Department wasn't impressed:

The exit was not a voluntary one, the State Department confirmed in a startling statement Tuesday. Tillerson "did not speak to the President and is unaware of the reason" for his firing, Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein said in a statement Tuesday morning, "but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve." A senior State Department official told NBC that Tillerson found out about his firing through Trump's tweet.

Tillerson, said Goldstein, had "every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security."

Goldstein was promptly also sacked for his impudence at telling the truth, making the White House crew out to be a pack of liars.

It's amazing how Trump aspires to "class" and yet demonstrates none himself. He surrounds himself with opulence, usually in the guise of pseudo period trinkets, lots of marble and especially gold. Take it from Peter York, Trump's style is "classic dictator."

York would know. A decade before the Mango Mussolini claimed the White House, York wrote a book on what he called "dictator chic," a style popularized by such grand despots as Milosevic, Ceausescu, Saddam Hussein, Gadaffi, pretty much every Arab grandee, Ukraine's Yanukovych, Mugabe and more. He identified the 10 decorating rules of dictator chic. Check it out. It's good for a chuckle.