1.31.2013

The Climate Change Debate, One Side Denies the Science, the Other Denies the Cost of Change


One of the problems in the climate change debate is that many environmentalists liberally apply the denier label to the climate science skeptics while they themselves deny that the economics of actually living a 'sustainable' lifestyle would mean ending the entitled lives they now enjoy. Many environmentalists have no trouble using the ostrich approach while driving their Prius to the mall to buy a designer composter.

Naomi Klein said the same thing in her article 'Capitalism vs. the Climate'. In it Klein says, "The [climate science] deniers did not decide that climate change is a left-wing conspiracy by uncovering some covert socialist plot. They arrived at this analysis by taking a hard look at what it would take to lower global emissions as drastically and as rapidly as climate science demands." and, "...if we are not on a radically different energy path by the end of this decade, we are in for a world of pain. But when it comes to the real-world consequences of those scientific findings, specifically the kind of deep changes required not just to our energy consumption but to the underlying logic of our economic system the crowd gathered at the Marriott Hotel [for the Heartland Institute Convention] may be in considerably less denial than a lot of professional environmentalists."

The inconvenient truth is that all the recycling, buying of green products and markets in pollution trading won't make a dent in the ecological crisis our over-consumption has already created. For all us in the 1st world to truly live within a sustainable footprint we'd have to live 3rd world lifestyles. When Heartlanders or evangelical Christian philosophers call environmentalists 'evil', when they see environmental groups as "one of the greatest threats to society and the church today", it’s not because they're stupid or paranoid, it’s because they're paying attention.

A book published by the evangelical Alliance Church called 'Resisting the Green Dragon: Dominion not Death' even portrays environmental groups as "one of the greatest threats to society and the church today." One passage reads that, "The Green Dragon must die... [There] is no excuse to become befuddled by the noxious Green odors and doctrines emanating from the foul beast..God is sovereign over creation and therefore humans can do no permanent damage..."

The inconvenient truth is that this crisis is caused by over-consumption and can't be solved by improving the efficiency of capitalism but by reducing the amount of material stuff we produce and consume. The evangelicals' use of the 'Green Dragon' is an apt metaphor because, like other dragons, the 'green' one is an imaginary concoction built on a combination of the force of our fears and the lies we tell ourselves to justify our self-interests.

1.30.2013

Climate Change is a Symptom, Human Induced Environmental Degradation is the Disease


Pogo's message for the original Earth Day, April 22, 1970

By designating CO2 induced climate change as public enemy #1 we've fallen into the trap mistaking a symptom for the disease. All types of environmental degradation are caused by human intervention in natural processes. The real enemy, as Pogo clearly saw way back on the first Earth Day in 1970, is humanity itself. Confusing symptoms with causes has allowed the entire environmental movement to be hijacked by one controversial debate - the role of human CO2 production in today's observed climate change.

Please don't misunderstand my point. Though there are some notable scientists who have made statements that conflict with the mainstream scientific understanding of global warming they are a small minority. In fact most climate scientists argue that mainstream estimates are far to conservative and that they err on the side of least drama in order to avoid being labeled as alarmist.

My point is that science is by definition never able to produce indisputable conclusions when those conclusions are based on models. The sciences that rely on simplified models of actual reality do so either because there are to many variables or because there is no way to have a 'control' to judge their results against - environmentally speaking have only one Earth. So the precautionary principle has to apply.

Once upon a time, however, mainstream scientists agreed that the earth was flat, that leeches were the best medical intervention and that DDT was a miracle.  DDT first synthesized in 1874, its insecticidal properties were discovered in 1939 and in 1948 Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his for his work with DDT as a poison for troublesome insects. As far back as the early 1940's a small minority of scientists questioned the safety of DDT but they were mostly ignored until the bestseller Silent Spring was published in 1962. It argued that DDT was poisoning wildlife, the environment and endangering human health. The public's reaction to Racheal Carson's classic launched the modern environmental movement. So keeping an open mind about the conclusions of 'experts' is always a good idea.

The modern environmental movement was/is about the disease our human over-consumption of the planet's limited resources was/is causing, not about any one particular symptom, including either pesticide pollution or CO2 pollution. Now, half a century after Slient Spring's publication, the necessary widespread environmental disease debate has been hijacked by the narrow human induced climate change topic. mr. mud wonders why?

Is it because it's simple? It isn't. Is it because it and Al Gore are sexy? Hum... Or that obscuring the real issue of our over-consumption allows the wheels of capitalist commerce to keep churning? Or is it that there's lottsa money to be made by pedaling panic? Remember it was Ken Lay of Enron who originally argued for a cap-and-trade scheme and Goldman Sachs has had by far the highest profits from the carbon trading bubble.

The environmental movement must be about the disease of capitalism with its impossible demands for endless growth when we have only one Earth with limited resources. That larger topic is what is being obscured by allowing ourselves to be trapped by the narrow debate around climate change.

1.29.2013

The Tla'amin Nation and INM's Powell River Allies Dance, Drum and Sing in Common Cause



Yesterday afternoon the Tla'amin Nation and many other residents of the Powell River area turned out for another uplifting experience. We all owe our thanks to the grassroots members of the Tla'amin people for both organizing this event and creating for us all a space in which we could share our 'common causes'. We, the proud allies of Idle No More, support human rights, the protection of the environment and the notion that our elected government should act honestly and honourably in carrying out its obligations to all its people.

We also owe our thanks to Courtney Harrop, a local independent photojournalist and blogger, who has been tireless in her efforts to document the local Idle No More movement as well as others near and far. Her full video of yesterday's rally is available here. There are also many wonderful pictures taken by her and others available at the Idle No More Powell River Facebook Page.

The Tla'amin songs and drumming, the Round Dance, the spirit of the moment was very moving. Hopefully you too went out yesterday to join in the Global Day of Action wherever you were, but if you didn't, i encourage you to come out for the next and the next and the next in your community. The drumming and dancing was reminiscent of other times long ago at YIPPIE rallies that were also more a demonstration of the inner spirits than the intellectual arguments of the participants.

Across Canada many other communities of First Nations and others marched, danced, sang and drummed their hope that by acting together we can build a better more just society within a healthy environment. The Powell River area has a small population, but comparatively speaking, it has had one of the largest turnouts for these Idle No More rallies anywhere. This is due, in part, to character of it 'left coast' residents and to the justness of the common cause, but also to the energy of the Tla'amin Nation's grassroots organizers.

Drew Kespaul, teaching us the traditional Tla'Amin Love song to greet the visitors from the ferry to traditional Coast Salish Territories, Powell River, BC. January 28th, 2013



1.28.2013

We Share 'Common Causes', We All Need Clean Water and Air, We All Must Be 'Idle No More'


Thousands are turning out all across Canada today to show their solidarity with Idle No More's Global Day of Action. The movement has grown to include many Canadian social justice groups under a banner of “Common Causes” as part of what organizers are calling an "unprecedented movement" to push back against the Harper government's erosion of environmental protections, workers' rights, and the general social welfare.

Common Causes spokesperson Maude Barlow said yesterday, "Common Causes is an assembly of progressive forces acting together to build a better society to defend democracy, social justice, the environment and human rights in the face of an all-out assault by the Harper government. Democracy is being savaged." Barlow said, "The future of our country and our society is at stake. We will unite our Common Causes to defeat this agenda and work for a just and sustainable future."

Support is growing for Idle No More all around the globe. As Mashu White Feather, a First Nations Elder from Rivers Inlet wrote yesterday about last week's vote at the UN General Assembly, "The United Nations voted in favor of placing sanctions against the Canadian government for the treatment of their Indigenous peoples and have moved to protect their Indigenous rights. There were 104 votes. 100 votes in favor and 4 against the motion. The countries against the sanctions were Canada, United States, Australia and New Zealand."

Locally, The Tla'amin Nation and residents of the Powell River area will be gathering at the Westview Ferry Terminal, Spirit Square, at 4pm. All of the usual suspects will undoubtedly be there and, as with each of the past gatherings, a few new faces too. Come out and join us here, there and everywhere. We all need clean water, we all need clean air, we all need to live in free country, we all share these common causes, we are all in this together, we must all be Idle No More!

1.26.2013

Will the Tyranny of the Exponential Debt Curve Lead to WW!!!?



The tyranny of the exponential curve – when applied to debt – is that the overall levels of indebtedness double in shorter and shorter time periods making the two images [above and below-left] both correct. The real time US Debt Clock says that right now the US National Debt is north of 16.4 trillion dollars and is growing at over 155 million dollars per/hour, mind boggling eh.

Meanwhile the Republican thugs blame out-of-control spending on 'entitlements' while the Democratic thugs blame the Bush Tax cuts for the problem. As the graph shows the problem didn't start 4 years ago or 8 or 12. The problem is that the US government refuses to live within its means. Like your household or mine, the US government's budget can only be tamed by either increasing revenue or cutting spending. These basic math issues were why the 'automatic budget sequestration' was enacted in 2011. But of course, just like in your household, it's not easy to earn more or spend less. Someone is bound to get upset because they have to work longer hours and continue driving their beater around.

With the military and other undisclosed 'security' spending at over 60% of discretionary spending it's obvious who should get a trim. That's where the whole budget balancing game falls apart, that's why neither side can allow the automatic budget sequestration to kick in, that's why Congress quietly kicked the impending Debt Ceiling crisis down the road a few months just like they did for sequestration.

Here's The Mud Report's way to look at the Debt Ceiling: Let's say, You come home from work and find there has been a sewer backup in your neighborhood....and your home has sewage all the way up to your ceilings. What do you think you should do ......
Raise the ceilings, or remove the shit?

There was only one politician in the Presidential race willing to propose the necessary type of massive cuts to the Pentagon's bloated budget - Ron Paul - and he was ignored at times, ridiculed at others. Now, after Paul's retirement and Dennis Kucinich's gerrymandered demise there's only the lonely sound of Vermont's Bernie Sanders' voice in Washington's beltway wilderness. Last time the Wall Street gurus and military industrial complex ran the US into this kinda trouble FDR and WW!! came along...wonder who and what war will happen this time.

1.25.2013

BREAKING NEWS: FBI to Declare the Rev. Billy and His 'Church of Stop Shopping' a Terrorist Network


Air-pocalypse hits Beijing this morning with record levels of pollution 25 times higher than considered safe.

Here's a story of international intrigue that makes The Great Game look like tiddlywinks. It started decades ago when certain western 'intelligence' agencies realized that the capitalism's Free Trade boondoggle would eventually result in countries like China and India having all the marbles. So they, the combined western world's 'intelligence' experts came up with a plan as insidious as it is effective. If you don't believe it, check out the picture above looking out over Beijing this morning.

The plan they adopted needed a number of events to occur and it appears they have. The first, and perhaps the most important, was to keep the western consumers mindlessly consuming despite the fact that they were losing their well paid manufacturing jobs willy-nilly to the lowest wage countries around the globe. That was accomplished by a combination of easing consumer credit and increased advertising creating a spike in demand for useless crap that continues to grow unabated.

Realizing that this race to the bottom would be an economic disaster for all but the richest capitalists who could quickly shift their capital from country to country the 'intelligence' agencies knew they had limited time because sooner rather than later even the most brainwashed shopaholic would run outta credit cards. World demographics showed that China would be where the big shit hit the big fan. China has billions of willing workers and a state-run economy that would be only to willing to increase production of the needless crap being demanded by mindless westerners. And we did and they did, exactly that.

Next came the embedded energy obfuscation. Everything, be it food or useless consumer crap, has a hidden energy cost. It takes energy to extract the raw materials, to build the factories, to power the factories, to feed and house the slaves [oops workers], to transport the raw materials to the factories then to transport the useless crap to the malls for consumption. Using all that energy has its own downstream costs like breathing air filled with toxic exhausts.

So, the combined 'intelligence' community concluded that if western consumers could be persuaded to buy enough crap form China fast enough so that before the Chinese [or Indians] realized what had happened to them they'd be dropping like flies from a combination of polluted air and insane transport traffic through near zero visibility conditions on the ground [again see picture above] that the west would 'win'. All of this meanwhile would make the west's capitalist bankers and oligarchs more difgustingly rich by both collecting interest on the consumer's self-destructive consumption and the sale of the dirtiest possible energy - King Coal - to the Asians.

Here's where the story returns to today's FBI declaration that the Rev. Billy and his 'Church of Stop Shopping' are being designated a terrorist network. The 'intelligence' community had no other choice really. Organizations like the 'Church of Stop Shopping' and Adbusters have already led to dangerous paradigm shifting movements like Occupy last year and now Idle No More that if allowed to continue growing might lead to mindless consumers becoming mindful, to needless stuff not being demanded, to extractors not extracting, to coal generators shutting down, to the air becoming less chunky. And the world as we know it coming to an end.

Thank you Rev. Billy, you could be our best hope.

1.23.2013

Calling Over-Consumers Debt Slaves is an Insult to Slaves - They're Addicts and Need Medical Intervention


Over-consumption and uncontrollable consumer debt are addictions. They follow the same behavioral sequence as any other addictions. Neither the junkie nor the bankrupted consumer became an addict the first time he/she tried drugs or whipped out a credit card. But they both got a huge endorphin boost, especially the first time, which made the decision to do it again easier. Each time, each boost gets a bit smaller, but the craving for those endorphins doesn't. Of course, riding the endorphin highway long enough inevitably leads downhill.

Recently per-capita consumer debt has risen to such nose-bleeding heights that hundreds of articles from 'experts' have been published. Many incorrectly use the term debt slave  to describe the millions of folks worldwide who are really debt addicts. Calling them slaves is both a cop-out by and for the over-consumers and an insult to real slaves, past and present, who have been bought, sold, tortured, chained and forced into bondage. Debt addicts, like all addicts have a choice. The choice gets more difficult with every pull on the crack pipe or every new big screen TV, but it's still a choice.

Consumer debt addicts live in almost every country, even though Britain is #1, Canada#2, and the US [post 2008] #3, Communist China is way up there, so is laid-back Spain. Debt enabled over-consumption has now risen to an all time high up here in the Great White North and the various 'experts' are intoning the debt addicts to 'just say no'. They have been for awhile actually but obviously Nancy Reagan's infamous line doesn't work any better for the debt addicted than it did for the drug addicted or than it does for the  porn addicted or the video game addicted or ?

Addicts are addicts, they aren't evil, they aren't sub-human, they are us and they/we all are susceptible to the rush of neuro-transmitter induced endorphin addictions be they to a substance or a process. Debt addicts need help, just like any other addict. They need medical help. If the 'war on drugs' [another Reagan era mistake] proved anything it proved that only loving, non-judgemental, consistent, medical help offers any long-term hope for the addicted.

So, my plan would mandate that every bank, every store offering in-house credit cards, every payday loan outlet, every auto dealership, etc. everywhere must have a professional addiction counselor onhand and that every consumer credit transaction can only be carried out after a 24hr. waiting period. Maybe in time this type of intervention could scale up so that every credit card terminal had a delay of at least an hour built in. If debt addicts couldn't get immediate gratification, if they had to endure 'councilling' before every transaction it would a least put a governor on the flow/speed of consumption and hopefully the amount of crap we import from countries employing actual slaves to produce it.

1.22.2013

Support Idle No More's Global Day of Action on Jan. 28th Because We're All in This Together


Tla'amin First Nation Members Chanting and Drumming

The Tla'amin Nation and residents of the Powell River area will be joining many other Idle No More supporters for a Global Day of Action on January 28th, 2013. Folks will be meeting at the Westview Ferry Terminal, Spirit Square, at 4pm. The local organizers encourage everyone to bring their friends and family, their kids, drums, noisemakers, signs, voices, and solidarity. For more information as well as many inspiring words check out the Idle No More Powell River Facebook group.

The Idle No More Movement is a grassroots movement, clearly no political organization speaks for Idle No More. This movement is of the people… For The People! The engineers were 4 Saskatchewan First Nations women, Nina Wilson, Sheelah Mclean, Sylvia McAdam and Jessica Gordon who said, "This day of action will peacefully protest attacks on Democracy, Indigenous Sovereignty, Human Rights and Environmental Protections when Canadian MPs return to the House of Commons on January 28th."

Why support Idle No More? Because now is the moment we must all come together to ensure that children two, three and twelve generations from now will have clean water. Everyone of every political stripe, of every belief structure, of every nation needs clean water. Lakes and rivers are either clean or dirty for Native and non-Native children alike. Lakes, rivers and the many species within them, once contaminated by pollutants, might never recover in human timescales. The dangerous and illegal authoritarian dictates within Bill-38 and Bill C-45 effect everyone.

Today' news includes another great story. The Port Alberni-based Hupacasath Nation is taking legal action against the federal government over a major investment treaty with China that has sparked controversy. The Hupacasath First Nation claims there was no consultation with Native groups about the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. The First Nation is seeking a declaration from Federal Court that Canada must consult with First Nations before the deal becomes binding and it is seeking an injunction to stop the treaty from being ratified until consultations are held. A lawyer representing the First Nation said, “This is really a court case for all citizens of Canada because it’s going to affect everyone negatively for a lot of different reasons, whether it’s to do with environmental, whether it’s to do with jobs, all kind of different areas. We’re all in this together.”

And that's the real key, we're all in this together. But while big legislative changes like Bills C-38 and 45 affect everyone in Canada, not everyone in Canada has the same legal basis for fighting back. First Nations have a unique leverage here. They are issuing legal challenges to the omnibus bills and trade agreements on the basis of infringement on treaty rights, land title, and constitutional questions.

Environmental groups are waking up to this strategy in the fight against Northern Gateway, but it needs to happen on a bigger scale.We all need to realize that First Nations and non-indigenous Canadians have common goals and interests that go well beyond any one pipeline or province; they extend across the country. We need to support each other in walking the paths that will achieve our common goals.

1.21.2013

Focusing on Proportional Representation Offers a Glimmer of Hope for Canada's 'Progressives'


Results if Canada had the proportional representation system already adopted by 83 countries in the world.

There is a glimmer of hope on the political horizon up here in the Great White North because Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is actively trying to broker progressive co-operation talks in Ottawa. The central theme of her attempt, and the focus of her recent letter to all the NDP MPs, is the issue of 'proportional representation'. Proportional representation isn't a wild unworkable theory, it's a reality in 83 countries including Australia, Japan, Norway, India and Israel all of which share certain different political characteristics with Canada.

One of the headlines from yesterday's Liberal leadership debate in Vancouver was that Joyce Murray was the only candidate to clearly state her support for electoral co-operation and that the odds-on favorite Justin Trudeau absolutely ruled out co-operation with the NDP. What wasn't widely mentioned is that Trudeau did clearly say that he supported proportional representation.

The NDP's leader Tom Mulcair likewise refused to support any type of co-operation with the Liberals in his recent leadership run. But in answering May's letter did stress the NDP's long history of championing proportional representation. Of course, neither of these two parties can publicly endorse any co-operation scheme because they'd be crucified by the Harper propaganda machine and they'd see many of their own party faithful openly revolt. This was exactly the same situation before the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance Party merged.

Remember when Peter MacKay signed a written deal to seal support from David Orchard's largely loyal delegates that secured his victory on the final ballot of the last PC leadership race?. The deal promised a review of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, no joint candidates with the Canadian Alliance, and a promise to redouble efforts to rebuild the national status of the Progressive Conservative Party. Almost immediately McKay walked away from his written agreement and announced a merger with the Harper's far-right Alliance Party. McKay and Harper like Trudeau and Mulcair are professional liars-oops, politicians-Elizabeth May isn't, but apparently she is an intelligent adult type human, something obviously in short supply in Ottawa.

Back to the NDP's part in this hopeful scenerio for a second. During their leadership race last year Nathan Cullen was the one and only candidate who was in favour or cooperation. Mulcair, after winning could have assigned Cullen to the scrap heap but he didn't, instead he made Cullen the NDP's House Leader-2nd in command really-symbolically supporting Cullen's ideas.

The long history of animosity and the honest philosophical differences between the NDP and the Liberals make a merger almost impossible. As long as this stalemate remains all the Harperites have to do is sit back and keep 37%-40% of the consumer class with enough rope so they can continue borrowing and consuming their way to madness which thereby keeps the Conservatives corporate backers happy and keeps the mordida rolling in.

Finally, Elizabeth May's letter, though not made public, said that she is trying to establish links of trust with people in other parties and that the Green Party is fully committed to finding ways to cooperate before the next election with any party that’s prepared to work with them to get past the first-past-the post [election system]. Here, in the common support of proportional representation as the best tool for involving the 40% of Canadians who abstain from voting, for establishing a truly democratic national government that represents the philosophy's of all her citizens, is that glimmer of hope.

1.19.2013

The Question of Lance Armstrong's Morals, For Me, Is One of First Weighing My Own Actions Not His


The question of Lance Armstrong's morals is one we all should be to asking ourselves today before we quickly jump on the bad-Lance bandwagon. The question of Lance is really one of where is our own line. Where is the line beyond which winning is no longer worth the cost of achieving it?. When do the means stop being justified by the ends?

A case like Lance's seems so easy to judge. It seems easy/comfortable to condemn him for going over 'the' line but IMO it isn't really that clear cut. Their doesn't seem to be a universally accepted way to draw a clear line, we are all damaged goods [except those of furry class like my best friend Pancho], we all weigh the balance between moral and immoral based on our own inner 'voice', we are all capable of justifying to ourselves behaviour as moral that others judge to be immoral.

Lance didn't waterboard anybody to get them to confess or inform on compatriots. He didn't lace any blankets with smallpox before handing them out to the Indians. He didn't rain down bombs on innocent children. He didn't slaughter millions of bison for their tongues or any of the other terrible things that our fellow humans judged at the time to be moral but we now almost all see as immoral.

Lance didn't sell mortgages to folks he knew couldn't pay, then after collecting a sales commission, throw the people into the street when they inevitably didn't pay. He didn't go out bitching and protesting against guns or pollution or bank 'profits' while at the same time accepting the interest from his RRSP, 401K or bank account while cashing his check from them.

The question of Lance for me is one of checking my own moral lines in the sand, seeing on which side of my line my own actions fall and restricting my judgements to those of that person. That's my question and my guest for today, and every other day, as i get out of bed and have to face that ugly damaged bastard in the mirror again.

1.18.2013

Canada's Over-Consumption a Big Part of Why It's #1 in Per Capita Waste Production


Canada’s #1 rankings are due to overconsumption Conference Board report says.

It's hardly surprising but none-the-less depressing that Canada, as the report released by the Conference Board of Canada yesterday said, dumps more garbage per capita than any other country in the developed world. Canada doesn't rate very well in the developed world for many fourteen indicators used to crunch the overall rating numbers, including: air quality, waste, water quality, biodiversity, natural resource management, climate change and energy efficiency. But waste generation was the most miserable of Canadian's ratings and it's due primarily to over consumption the report says.

Some of Canada's low rankings can be partially justified by its huge size which creates high transportation costs for fuel and the energy requirements of heating in the cold northern climate. But not its garbage production, that is a function of its mindless over-consumption of unnecessary crap combined with the refusal of the over-consumers to re-cycle their crap. It's estimated that between 70% and 90% of Canada's waste could and should be re-used, re-cycled or composted instead of dumped into landfills.

If Canadians must mindlessly consume needless crap why must they also waste their waste instead of harnessing the energy embedded in it? Because Canada is a throwaway society. Millions of Canadians, be they left-wingers and right-wingers, lineup everyday at Starbucks, Tim Hortens or where ever for their disposable cup of coffee every morning and you'll see almost as many of them jogging by that afternoon with their non-reuseable water bottle clutched in their politically correct fingers.

Lottsa other countries have consumer cultures too but for a variety of reasons they don't produce anywhere near the same waste per capita. Japan, for instance, consumes plenty but produces less than half as much per capita. Even the Americans, the most mindless of all consumer societies, produces less per person than Canada. Why? Well, in Japan's case it's a cultural difference as much as it is a regulatory one as it is with the USA.

Here in Powell River, far from the world's most green or culturally evolved location, a simple change in regulations has already created a huge difference in the mindset of residents. Basically in The Regional District of Powell River re-cycling is free, but you pay for waste disposal by the pound. There are a few wrinkles that locals are constantly tweaking the details of to iron out, but in waste, as most things in our consumerist society, money talks.

1.17.2013

Canadian Authorities Mistakenly Believe That 'Idle No More' Will Run Out Of Gas If Left Idling


Yesterday all across Canada protesters marched in the streets blocking traffic, they blockaded railways and bridges including a blockade at North America's busiest border crossing. They banged on their drums, had lottsa round dances and rallies and proudly displayed their 'Idle No More' signs. It was another day of non-violent protest by Canada's First Nations' peoples who are attempting to keep the focus of the fickle attention of non-Aboriginals on the real issues of environmental protection and treaty obligations that started their uprising.

Even a partial list of the hundreds of rallies yesterday shows clearly that 'Idle No More' is far from running out of gas. In fact it's growing broader in both its tactics and its effectiveness. Their chant that "the whole world is watching" is born out by the huge number of international media outlets running stories and pictorial essays about the movement every day.

One part of the story, that of why the police haven't cracked down on the blockades, illuminates their effectiveness. In advance of yesterday's rallies Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Chris Lewis defended the police's handling of the 'Idle No More' protests on Youtube in response to widespread criticism, especially from the right-wing. In it Lewis said, "These concepts and strategies developed from experience, hard work and common sense are difficult and complex to explain to the general public." Lewis also said, "Public safety is the primary concern." and he trumpeted the fact that there haven't been any reports of injuries to protesters, police or members of the public at the protests in OPP jurisdiction.

What Lewis didn't say was that the "strategies developed from experience" have taught them that effect of cracking down on non-violent First Nations demonstrations is increased sympathy and an intensified media spotlight on the underlying issues driving the movement. Exactly what the government and the army of the rich [the police] don't want.

What Lewis and the government really believe is that: 'When you leave something idling, it normally runs out of gas.' That's what they want and expect, but their metaphorical fantasy isn't real. These aren't normal times, these aren't normal issues, these protesters aren't motivated by the normal bourgeois dreams. Instead these protesters are the idealistic youth not the already corrupted leadership. They have grownup in an inter-connected world where their issues are every one's issues. The biggest mistake the authorities have made is that they don't believe the slogan 'Idle No More' is true. That, the authorities misreading of the long term and widespread impact of being 'Idle No More', will be their undoing.

1.16.2013

Fracking is Being Fought in Every Country on Every Continent - Are All the Opponents Terrorists?


Alberta landowner Jessica Ernst lights methane infused well water from her property on fire. 

This morning's article by Andrew Nikiforuk titled 'How Alberta Will Fight Fracking Folk Hero Jessica Ernst' introduced me to Jessica Ernst, a 55-year-old scientist and oil patch consultant  who is suing the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), the Alberta Environment and Encana for contaminating her water well with methane and other chemicals nearly a decade ago. Nikiforuk has written many great articles critical of the energy industries in Canada and beyond including a recent series on the technology of fracking with Cornell University engineering professor Anthony Ingraffea, a world-recognized fracking expert,

In a brief filed on Dec. 5, 2012 lawyers representing the ERCB [Alberta's energy regulator] argue that a regulator charged to develop oil and gas resources in the public interest owes no duty of care to protect a citizen's groundwater. The ERCB legal brief also portrays Ernst as an "ecoterrorist" because she made an offhand comment about 'the Wiebo Way'. This is the same tactic used by every neo-conservative group since 9/11. Basically if you protest or take any other action that opposes consumer capitalism, or the extraction industries, or the drone wars, or... its a long list - you are labeled a terrorist just like Jessica Ernst.

Fracking for gas not only uses toxic chemicals that can contaminate drinking and groundwater—it also releases substantial quantities of radioactive poison from the ground that will remain hot and deadly for thousands of years. Fracking is the technology being used by natural gas industry in northeastern BC to produce the gas it wants to export to China via pipelines through virgin wilderness no less destructive than the Northern Gateway Pipeline that so many are protesting.

This fracked gas to China scheme also requires the building of the Site C Dam because of the huge electric power demand that liquefying the gas would require. The Site C Dam which would flood a huge tract of the last remaining viable agricultural land in BC is another boondoggle and ecological nightmare that the First Nations and environmental communities are fighting.

Anyone who believes all this long term destruction is worth a few short term construction jobs [many of which which will go to low wage non-union temporary foreign workers anyway] has been brainwashed by the energy industry. Fracking is being fought in every country on every continent around the world. In every instance as soon as those who oppose this bullshit use civil disobedience to get publicity they are labeled terrorists by the main stream media and capitalists that own them.

1.15.2013

Where in the World are Public Hearings Not Open to the Public? Harperland of course.


Thousands protest the exclusion of the public from the Enbridge Northern Gateway hearings

Thousands of protesters greeted Northern Gateway 'public' hearings in Vancouver yesterday. They, the unwashed, were forced to stand and chant in the rain and snow outside the Wall Centre in downtown Vancouver. because in Harperland the public isn't allowed into public hearings.

Suresh Fernando, one of the protest organizers, said, "...presenters at the hearings can’t make reference, for example, to the oilsands and the bigger picture. You can only speak to issues relating to Enbridge. They’re constraining the dialogue.” Those who are allowed to speak had to apply 19 months ago and submit a summary of their presentation 6 months ago. Even those who were allowed to speak faced unannounced last minute restrictions. For instance Lori Waters, the scientific animator who “found” the 1,000 square kilometres of islands that were omitted from Enbridge's promotional video of the Northern Gateway pipeline, was one of the final presenters of the week last week in Victoria. At the last minute she was told by the panel she was not allowed to show the visual evidence of Enbidge's deceptive propaganda video despite the fact that it was in the submission that was accepted 6 months ago.

The BC Civil Liberties Association says that the exclusion of public from the Enbridge hearings is 'potentially unlawful'. "The National Energy Board has the powers of a court of law, it operates like a court and, like the courts, its hearings must be open, transparent and accessible," said Lindsay Lyster, President of the BCCLA. "Canadian courts and tribunals, such as the National Energy Board, are bound by law and the constitution to be open to the public so that the public can see how decisions that affect them are administered." But of course laws and courts don't matter anymore in Harperland.

In Harperland the ear of government hears only the slippery voices of the oil industry. That's why Harper refused to debate then rammed his autocratic Omnibus Bills C-38 and C-45 through. Harper's determination to serve his big oil backers at any cost is why thousands are in the street protesting, that's why the drums are pounding. Those protesters still believe the voices of the many can be heard above those of the favoured few here in Harperland, sure hope they're right.

1.14.2013

Doubting That CSIS or the RCMP Would Use Infiltration and Provocateurs Against INM is Naive


The corporate-state can never allow real dissent lest it open the eyes of the manipulated masses. Last year it was the Occupy movement's leaderless, powerless, tent living few whowith their 99% vs.1% meme so scared the powerful oligarchs that they resorted to an over the top illegal and immoral crackdown. As Naomi Wolf outlined in her Guardian article, 'How the FBI Coordinated the Crackdown on Occupy' the elites had no trouble enlisting their bought and paid for politicians into using the FBI and other national and local 'security' to coordinate the repression of those who would dare to oppose them.

This year it's Idle No More - another leaderless, nearly powerless and definitely poverty ridden grassroots movement - that's challenging the corporatocracy. The reactionary response by Canada's right-wing government shows, IMO, that the Canadian security cabal is probably already fully engaged in coordinating the undermining of it as well.

The media in Canada is already using the fog of repetition to re-define civil disobedience as violence.  Despite the history of the civil rights movement, the women's rights movement, the labor movement, the anti-war movements and many others the reactionary response is consistent everywhere. First, re-frame non-violent civil disobedience as being a violent or thinly disguised threat of violence. Next, enroll the tools of state repression - propaganda and fear among them - to divide their most outspoken critics from the generally ill-informed public. Then infiltrate the protesters so that their provocateurs can either incite the protesters to commit a violent act or, like the Black Block, just do it themselves, and thereby discredit the group. Finally, the oligarchs will claim they are under attack and sweep in with the full force of their 'security' goons.

This isn't a new development in the annuls of class warfare, it's the way the powerful control their opponents. The Idle No More movement would do well to heed the quiet, powerful words of Nuu-chah-nulth matriarch Lillian Rose Howard [picture above] who has been in the forefront of virtually every key indigenous battle in the last 40 years. Howard advises that "people must be prepared for the police to break their word and for violence -- that's why our conduct in protests and acts of civil disobedience must be above reproach." Howard also advises activists drawing on her 40 years' experience: "Accept that you will be targeted. You're planning and organizing and upsetting the establishment. They will target you and come after you. Don't be intimidated or scared, because we are all fighting for each other."

Here in Canada CSIS and the RCMP, just like in those same forces in the US, Britain, Germany, Russia, China, India, Israel and elsewhere, have shown no hesitation in using infiltration and entrapment against their critics in the past, doubting they're already using it now would be naive.

1.12.2013

Young, Old, Female, Male, Red, White, Brown or Black - We Must All Be 'Idle No More'


Yesterday members of the Tla'Amin Nation and other Powell River area folks sang, danced and spoke, along millions of others around the globe of our love of Mother Earth, of our hopes and of our unity. As we stood in the sacred circle singing the Tla'Amin Prayer song and watching the eagle fly overhead  there was no division among the people. There were no young or old people, no female or male people, no red, white, brown or black people - we were one.

This is the way it must be if we are ever going to live in harmony with each other on this one small blue marble circling our star. Yesterday, we stood undivided and unconquerable breathing the same air, feeling the same cold. We must stay united and allow our undivided circle grow and encompass first all the nations and all the peoples, then every living thing.

We must not allow ignorance and fear to divide us in the future as it has in the past. Prejudice and hatred are always rooted in ignorance and fear. Slowly, but steadily, we must dissolve those fears of the unknown, we must learn that we - the flora, fauna, minerals, microbes, forces and faeries - are all in this together. We must be, as is the ever growing circle, undivided. We must be unified in our efforts to overcome those forces of ignorance and fear that seek to divide us into separate categories.

We must all be Idle No More.

1.11.2013

Backgrounder on Today's INM 'Global Day of Action' In Response Harper's Dictatorial Style


At the beginning and the end of this historic day, this Global Day of Action, the goal will remain the same - STOP HARPER.

The Idle No More movement has gained momentum so quickly in Canada and around the world because so many folks have access to the Internet and have read, studied and concluded for themselves that the Harper government's dictatorial style must be stopped.

Why? One reason is Harper's total disregard for the Canadian courts. For instance, last year a shudder ran down the spines of many as Harper's government thumbed its nose at the court when it ruled that the Canadian Wheat Board wasn't being accorded its rights. Yesterday the Federal court ruled that the Conservative government's response to the crisis in Attawapiskat were unreasonable and failed to look at any remedy other than the appointment of a Third Party Manager. Continuing on to say that the government was wrong in its response to the crisis in Attawapiskat and its ongoing attempt to divide Canadians with misleading information is shameful. Another article outlining the details of Attawapiskat budget showed where the money was spent and how the Conservatives spun the facts to hoodwink Canadians.

The Harper government bills that sparked Idle No More are well outlined and documented. Harper uses the costs of a court battle against the poor, especially First Nations, in his divide and conquer strategy. Fortunately two bands in Alberta do have the funds to fight the changes in the courts to the Fisheries Act, Environmental Protection Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act contained in Bill C-38 and Bill C-45 that infringe on treaty rights by affecting the fishing and hunting rights and make changes that will make it easier to lease out land for economic development without adequately consulting band residents. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled numerous times that the government must consult with aboriginal groups when legislation may affect treaty rights.

Why? Why would Harper and his cronies do it? This week Greenpeace uncovered, through a Freedom of Information Request, documented evidence of why when they got access to a letter written by the energy industry to the Conservatives showing clearly that what the oil industry wants, the Harper government gives. The letter proves that Harper and his government are stooges of their energy industry backers.

Today's article by Ken Georgetti and Maude Barlow at Rabble.ca does an excellent job of explaining  Idle No More has resonated with Canadians emotionally as well as intellectually. Today is a historic day in Canada. Thousands will rally at hundreds of places across Canada, the assembled chiefs will stand up to Harper's attempts to dictate the agenda of their 'meeting'. But in the end, as it was at the beginning of this historic Global Day of Action, the goal will remain the same - STOP HARPER.




1.10.2013

Folks Everywhere are Joining the Round Dance Revolution. How About You?



Round Dance Revolution

Today's events are boiling so fast its impossible to keep up with all of them. The pressure is on Harper's government from all angles.  He's squirming to try to keep control of the agenda...and losing. It's invigorating to see that once again it could well be Canada's First Nations that come to the rescue of its environment.

The Idle No More movement holds the power now not the Assembly of First Nations or any of the individual chiefs including Chief Spence who's hunger strike served to focus the sensationalism driven mass media on the issues of Aboriginal Treaty Rights and the consultations the courts have demanded the government participate in before passing bills effecting those rights. Tomorrow's meeting-s mean less by the hour. Chief Spence's hunger strike does too. The question at this time is: Does the Conservative Government of Canada have the legitimate legal and moral authority to govern? Harper's moves in the next 24hrs could determine the answer.

Chief Spence's hunger strike, started weeks ago in support of Idle No More's issues, has served its purpose and it's probably time, after tomorrow's events, to go home to her family. We all owe her a huge debt of gratitude just as we did Elijah Harper many years ago. The steadfast grassroots First Nations members of Idle No More across Canada, to whom we also owe our thanks, are now the focus of attention. Their influence has grown with their numbers to the point where now the whole world is watching...and dancing.

Folks of all shapes, sizes, races, sexes and ages everywhere are joining the Round Dance Revolution. It's uplifting to visit the Facebook site and watch the videos roll in from around the world. The issues originally raised by this movement are very important in themselves but they are even more symbolically important  As Kristin Moe says today in Yes Magazine: "It holds up a mirror to our society, questioning the historical narrative we’re all taught to believe. It asks: On what values was our country founded? And, because identity is created out of that narrative: Who are we, really? And who do we want to be?"

Somewhere near you tomorrow, no matter where you are, the Indigenous people will be rallying in support of Idle No More's call for a Global Day of Action. They'll be joining the Round Dance Revolution. How about you?

Below are a couple of my favorite articles out today. The first gives a detailed accounting of Attawapiskat books. The second shows why the First Nations are the best hope for environmental justice and basic human rights for everyone:

Attawapiskat: You Want to Be Shown the Money? Here it Is.

Why First Nations Movement Is Our Best Chance for Clean Land and Water by Winona LaDuke

1.09.2013

Many Pension Funds Profit From Logging Cortes Island's First Growth Forests. Do Yours?


John Woolley, a retired public school teacher here in BC, learned recently that a surprising and unlikely adversary - his own pension funds - were heavily invested in the logging of Cortes Island's first growth timber. Wolley was appalled at the way his pension funds are being invested in the liquidation of private forest lands on Vancouver Island by companies in the portfolio of BC Investment Management Corporation (bcIMC). With the arrival of pension investment shareholders, the major timber players converted themselves into asset liquidation and real estate companies.

Woolley is outraged that the company managing his pension, and those of half a million other British Columbians, has moved aggressively over the last ten years into “destruction of habitat and the devastation of our forests, which is not responsible investing.” bcIMC owns 25 percent of Island Timberlands, 50 percent of TimberWest (the other half is owned by the federal Public Sector Pension Investment Board), and is a major shareholder of a Brookfield Asset Management (BAM) company that owns another 51 percent of Island Timberlands and 49 percent of Western Forest Products.

Woolley says, “This means that virtually every retired teacher, university professor and public servant at all levels of government is unknowingly invested in unsustainable and destructive industrial logging practices that weaken the economy of Vancouver Island and nearby coastal regions.

Not only is bcIMC quietly invested in corporations with nefarious intent, every pension fund, public or private, is actually an investment fund managed, like any corporate entity, to produce maximum profits for their share holders - in this case the pensioners. Sure some funds claim to be more 'green' than others, but a closer look into how 'green' is defined by investment fund managers is a lot like 'seeing how the sausage is made'.

Basically, if you have RRSPs [or 401Ks in the US], if you get interest from a bank account or if you have a pension of any type - you are a shareholder in the Empire and part of the corporate profit structure. In fact the single largest inflow of new money into the shady world of investment funds isn't the rich, it's individual small time folks who undoubtedly have no idea that they are investors in the demise of the very things they cherish most.  As John Woolley says, “We are killing our own local economy and we are doing it to ourselves.”

1.08.2013

Hugo Chávez' Condition Stable Despite Speculation by the Empire's Propaganda Machine


Reading the world press about Hugo Chávez' current health status is very informative, not about his actual health, but about how information and dis-information works in the digital age. While the Venezuelan Government, his family and his closest friends all say his condition is stable every right-wing outlet, especially in the US, are reporting that he's either already dead or on life support. It's interesting, it makes a person wonder about the veracity of any news report written in the mainstream media beyond perhaps the score of last night's ballgame.

Reading the articles about his legacy is another interesting, and in some ways more enlightening, lens on Hugo Chávez' story. Two recent articles one in the New York Times, hardly a bastion of left-wing ideologues, and the other at Global Research show that though his character and politics can be spun by the empire's propaganda machine, the facts on the ground of what he has accomplished can't.

The facts are that Hugo Chávez and his party recently won 13 of 14 local elections mainly because they greatly improved the living standards of the majority of voters in Venezuela. Since 2004 poverty has been cut by half and extreme poverty by more than 70 percent. Venezuelans get free education to the highest levels and quality health care, subsidized food and housing, land reform, respect for indigenous rights, job training, micro credit, affordable electricity and cooking gas and gasoline at 7 cents a gallon. Eligibility for public pensions tripled, most of the poverty reduction coming from increased employment, not 'government handouts', and during most of Chávez’ tenure the private sector has grown faster than the public sector. If you haven’t heard any of this, it’s because the news media in the US and the rest of the 'free' world is giving you the equivalent of a “tea party” view of Chávez' accomplishments.

Beyond his domestic accomplishments Hugo Chávez is a hero to anti-imperialists around the globe because he has used Venezuela's oil revenue to help his neighbors, not enrich himself and his cronies. The empire hates and fears Chávez because of the example he sets out for others to follow. And follow they do, all over Latin America and far beyond. We all have to die sooner or later, whenever it's Hugo's turn his legacy will live on in the hearts and memories of 'the people' both living and those yet unborn.

1.07.2013

Chief Theresa Spence's Income and Lifestyle Being Spun to Hide Bill C-45's Authoritarian Dictates


The release of the results of the Attawapiskat audit and the comments about Chief Theresa Spence's income and lifestyle are all totally fair game in relation to the topic of her accountability as chief, even to the issues surrounding First Nations accountability generally. Likely the members of the Attawapiska reserve are totally pissed that she and her 'partner' live in luxury and roll around in a Cadillac Escapade while they live in tents with no running water. Likely this kinda situation is true in lottsa places whether they are First Nations reserves or our hometowns. But those are not the issues that Idle No More and their worldwide supporters are protesting are they?

No. The issues of Theresa Spence's corrupt lifestyle are the same as any other leader's corruption but right now they are being used to discredit the ideas being brought up by the Indigenous peoples themselves. They are being used, spun, by both The Conservatives and conservatives to hide the issues they don't want to face and don't want you to focus on either. This tactic is typical now-a-days. For instance, David Moscrop, a PHD candidate at UBC, wrote an interesting article last week in the Globe and Mail about the history of western liberal philosophy in relation to Spence and INM. It was thought provoking if nothing else. There were hundreds of comments almost all of which were personal attacks on, or the defense of, either Moscrop or Spence. Almost none even mentioned either the points he was making or those of Idle No More.

The real issues we all should be pissed off about are that before the passage of Bill C-45, 2.6 million rivers, lakes and a good portion of Canada’s three ocean shorelines were protected under the Navigable Waters Act, now only eighty-seven are protected. And that Bill C-45, which makes major changes to the treaties signed in Canada's name by the Queen, was passed without any of the legally and morally required consultation.

The grassroots members of Idle No More are First Nations people who have certain rights guaranteed them by treaties  Those treaties give them to right to challenge the illegal authoritative dictates of Bill C-45. The bill infringes on those First Nations' treaty rights, compromises ownership of their land, and takes away protection for Canada’s waterways and most of the environment. "We all should be outraged, and idle no more." - Winona LaDuke

1.06.2013

The Washington Redskins Must Fire Mike Shanahan Immediately For Playing an Injured RG111


If Mike Shannahan doesn't quit he should be fired immediately by the Washington Redskins for allowing an obviously injured Robert Griffin the 3rd to continue playing in today's NFL playoff game against Seattle. The first responsibility of any coach at any level of any sport is the health of the young players he/she coaches. Mike Shanahan, no matter how much pressure he was under, put winning ahead of the health of his young quarterback today. He is a terrible example for young coaches and an excellent example of what sport should never be...

i've been a Seattle Seahawks fan for decades and they deserved to win today but it was painful to watch as RG111 limped around from the opening snap onwards. The announcers including hall-of-fame quarterback Troy Aikman said over and over that "Griffen is a compromised player". The team doctor who has been under fire for allowing him to play in these last games since his injury should resign too.

Griffen's parents must, as would any parents watching their injured child's future well being as well as his career put in harm's way by this coach, be livid or in tears. It isn't just that their son is such a huge star with such a bright athletic future, RG111 is every one's child in every sport professional or amateur.

Way back in '65, as a star of a small town's high school basketball i fell down shoveling snow and broke my ribs. After getting them taped secretly i lied to the coach and told him, as would any young kid including RG111 today, that i could play. To his credit my high coach, even though our league title was on the line, demanded an x-ray and benched me when it came back that i was really injured. We lost, but the coach did his job by protecting me and my future health. Mike Shanahan didn't do his job and must either quit immediately or be fired.

1.05.2013

Today, Just Another Perfect Day To Remember That Wanting Less Is The Secret to Having Enough


Today started like most days. Fruit and coffee followed by an inbox full of good, bad and ugly emails and links. Next up my best friend and i usually go for a long walk to the beach. We live in a beautiful corner of creation along the Malaspina Strait across from Texada Island a bit south of Powell River. The tides, winds, weather, birds and other stuff all change everyday but high or low, windy or calm, rainy or sunny they always are enough.

Today, like most days, feeling the wholeness of nature's bounty was enough, enough to re-frame my view. Enough to help me remember that all those problems in my inbox are wired together, all of them are symptoms not the disease itself. Climate change, species extinction, ocean acidity, pollution, materialism...on and on. They are all symptoms of this disease that, destroys us from within, the disease of 'more'.

Today, as the seagulls danced in the wind, my mind somehow re-framed its focus onto the curative notion that those seagulls lived and danced so freely because they never wanted 'more' than enough. Endlessly wanting more might well be the metaphorical apple Eve offered Adam. Endless 'more' is of course impossible to achieve, an absurd fiction that leads to mankind's present fixation on the equally absurd concept of endless growth.

"Rivalry for worldly gain will distract you until you visit your grave.  Finding pleasure in people, events, nature and not in things, is a way to deal with this weakness of human beings, and to find true contentment." - The Qur'an

1.04.2013

Harper Blinks - Sorta - Now First Nations Must Demand That the Kelowna Accord Be Re-Instated


This morning Harpo blinked - sorta - and agreed to meet with aboriginal leaders on Jan. 11 in large part no doubt to stem the flood of pressure he and his cronies are under from around the globe. Now, after this current success at blink-manship, the next test for Shawn Atleo the rest of the First Nation's leadership starts. This meeting is crucial not only for the hunger strikers and 'Idle No More' but for all of us everywhere.

The First Nations leaders understand only to well that actions speak far louder than words. Here in Canada, and around the globe, Indigenous leaders have signed agreements and treaties with colonial occupiers only to see them abandoned as soon as those occupiers had the upper hand. Generally those agreements/treaties stipulated that in exchange for the title to vast amounts of land and the rights to the natural resources they contained the newcomers would provide the indigenous people's with services like education, housing and health care in perpetuity. Then, as history clearly shows, once the newcomers become numerous enough and powerful enough they just abandon those agreements.

Most Canadians will remember The Kelowna Accord, an agreement negotiated by then-prime minister Paul Martin with the First Nations leaders and the provincial and territorial governments back.in 2005. That agreement which Phil Fontaine, then National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, called the deal a breakthrough for his people was immediately abandoned as soon as Harpo and his ilk took office. That agreement followed years of extensive consultation between all the 'nations' as opposed to the current government's dictatorial omnibus Bill C-45. This time around the First Nations must not agree to anything that doesn't mandate consultation and consensus.

The Kelowna Accord, which created specific, co-operatively developed programs to address the areas of education, employment and living conditions was a viable plan and the re-adoption of it by the current government [which most all folks agree will happen right after hell freezes over] could be a one huge step toward a way out of the current conflict and toward a future where First Nations everywhere regain control of their destiny and culture through honest negotiation not authoritarian dictate.

1.03.2013

How Geology, Climate and Weather Make Traveling West Over Deadman Pass Treacherous in Winter


Winter fog above the Columbia River that contributes to the danger of Deadman Pass

Having driven over Deadman Pass in Oregon during the winter dozens of times over the years has taught me, and many others, just how dangerous a stretch of road it is, especially heading west. The terrible and deadly bus accident of a few days ago has brought back memories of some frightening moments of my own up there.

Geology plays a part in the unique conditions there, so to does the area's weather and climate. The eastern side of Deadman Pass is high rolling alpine country akin to so much of the west's terrain. It's cold/dry climate makes for powdery snow that may blow around a bit but seldom goes through the freezing/thawing cycles so evident on the western side of the pass heading down toward Pendelton, Oregon. The I-84 highway's western side is very steep and drops down into a totally different geology and climate who's weather is dominated by the Columbia River some miles further west.

Fog created by the river's relatively warmer water often covers all the bench lands adjacent to the Colombia for miles in every direction, all the way to the Blue Mountains which Deadman Pass traverses. In late winter/early spring its easy to see the climatic difference because the eastern side is still cold and snow covered while at the same time the western side's bench lands are already green. Where that warmer, wetter rising air mass meets the colder, dryer descending high country air.the roads become treacherous.

Heading east from Pendelton a person is climbing a steep switch backed grade up to the pass so it's far easier, no matter what time of day it is, to control and slow a vehicle even when the road surface is ice covered. Heading west, downhill, is a different story. The big rigs all stop before the drop off and shift down into a low gear then let the engine's compression control its speed both because overheated brakes are useless and applying them on ice is too. Car drivers though usually don't stop and put their automatic tranny down into low gear and consequently end up having to slow down quickly behind a big truck and often end up in trouble.Added to that is the fact that on most days there is really only one lane in each direction that is at all clear of ice and snow and that lane is full of big rigs slowly ascending or descending. So trying to pass the slow moving rigs in either direction means pulling out onto an even more dangerous surface.

Imagine yourself breezing over Deadman Pass heading west, dry road and sunny skies in your rearview mirror, icy roads and fog in front of you. Within seconds you're gaining way to fast on rear end of a rig. What to do? You're already going to fast for the grade, another car behind you is heading out into the left [passing] lane and you know even touching your brakes could be the last move you make...yikes!

So, the best advice for my fellow snowbirds and road warriors is to use I-84 when you're going east in the winter months. But during the winter either avoid driving west over Deadman altogether or, if unavoidable, wait until the warmest part of the day, mid-afternoon, when its most likely that the ice caused by the interaction of the Columbia's foggy presence and the high country cold air has melted on the road's surfaces.

For sure Deadman is on the easiest, quickest, and shortest route between the Pacific Northwest's dark grey winters and the bright skies of the sagebrush nation which lead to points south. My advice is to use I-84 over Deadman to, like The Beach Boys said, "get there fast, then take it slow". There's lottsa beautiful routes to take north when ya gotta turn back that don't include heading west over the top of Deadman Pass in the winter, eh.

1.01.2013

Long-Term Environmental Protection and Canada's Treaty Obligations the Focus of #Idle No More


Members of the Haisla First Nation march in Kitimat, B.C. and spoke of their opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project.

The grassroots 'Idle No More' movement began in Saskatchewan back in November in response to Bill C-45. Now, 6 weeks later it has grown into a worldwide movement supported by millions of folks -many indigenous, many not. Though their voices speak in many languages, they focus on common concerns. Concerns about the rights granted to First Nations in environmental protection and the guarantees they received from Canada, and other countries, in exchange for the land and resource wealth those land generated.

"Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence's hunger strike has 'humble and achievable' vision" said Joe Clark - a Conservative PM from back when Conservatives were conservatives. Other less well known First Nations leaders like Raymond Robinson, 51, an elder with the Cross Lake First Nation have done the same. “This is about respect for our treaty rights,” Robinson said Monday  “at the same time, about respect for Mother Earth and the land and resources that [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper is taking it upon himself to own and control.”

Treaty obligations and environmental stewardship are wickedly complex issues that each of us sees, like everything else, through the lens of our own worldview. So it's to be expected that people's opinions would differ widely. In these last few weeks there have been thousands of articles written in the media, on Facebook, blogs and twitter. Most social media sites, unfortunately, are silo like in that they sing their song back to 'the choir' who already agree with the viewpoints being expressed. Consequently most of the comments on them are supportive of the sites viewpoints, a few might blast those views but very, very few offer well constructed arguments about the salient issues.

Consequently it might be expected that the comments written on larger mainstream media sites who's articles reach a far wider audience would generate a wider compliment of opinions and a wider scope of debate. But instead those comment sections are filled with personal attacks or prejudice and almost never reasoned debate about the important issues, that Idle No more for instance, is trying to focus attention on.

The Mud Report clearly has its own point of view too. It's author, me, thinks that a deal is a deal, that environmental well-being trumps the well-being of the rich, that Mother Nature's long term health is the only way to guarantee the future health of our children and grandchildren. Living in a small town like Powell River, where everyone is closely connected in many ways, it seems like the comments in our local paper would be a bit more respectful and well reasoned but unfortunately they aren't.