3.30.2013

Thousands at WSF in Tunis Sing, Dance and Speak Out to Show Us How Another World is Possible


This year's World Social Forum wrapped up today in Tunis, Tunisia. Once again this year thousands of people came from every corner of the globe to celebrate and that 'Another World is Possible'.  The food sovereignty group La Via Campesina, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, was among thousands of groups at the WSF.

More and more people around the world have converted to organic and sustainable practices - the 'People's Solution' - because they work. Ibrahima Coulibaly of Mali, part of La Via Campesina network, said at a news conference, "Agribusiness and transnational corporations are a major threat to the world. They control the best land, and are grabbing even more land everywhere. Instead of producing food for people, they produce crops for export markets– bio-fuels for cars or animal feed for industrial meat factories. But farmers are also uniting globally."

An excellent example of how another world is possible comes from two stories in the news here in BC yesterday. The first, prominent on every lamestream media outlet around Vancouver, was about the thousands of Canadian cars lined up for at least 2 hours at all the Canada/US border crossings. They, the brain-dead consumer class, in their thousands, still are the majority for sure. They still live their lives searching in vain for the right stuff. The second story was about a successful hemp growing and processing industry in 100 Mile House area and how it appears to be just what the economy of that area needs.

Organic. bio-diverse. agriculture works everywhere, including my front yard. Not only does it work to build living soil and produce healthy food but as Vandana Shiva, a fixture at the WSF says, "Biodiversity and soils rich in organic matter are the best strategy for climate resilience and climate adaptation. Forty per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, which are responsible for climate change, come from the use of fossil fuels and chemical-intensive industrial globalised system of agriculture."

The World Social Forum shows us all that another world, a better world, is possible.


Legendary musician Gilberto Gil, a leader of Brazil’s tropicália musical movement of the 1960s,.sings a Reggae version of 'Imagine' at WSF yesterday.

3.29.2013

Canada is Now a Rogue Nation Ruled by Harper's Petro State Politics and Evangelical Delusions


Canada, once considered an enlightened and progressive country, was one of the first countries to sign the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification 1994. Two days ago it became the first to walk away, Canada is now the only UN member country, 193 to 1, not part of the treaty.

Head of the Council of Canadians and world renown water expert Maude Barlow condemned Harpo's decision to withdraw from the UNCCD saying, “Anything that they’re involved in that can lead to more evidence that we’re a planet in crisis environmentally they don’t want to be part of. They simply do not want this information coming forward."

David Suzuki says in his blog, "Canada is becoming increasingly isolated on the world stage, especially when it comes to environmental issues For our government to stop working with the rest of the world to resolve some of the most serious issues we face is a betrayal of Canadian values."

Barlow and Suzuki correctly focus on the upcoming scientific UNCCD meeting that will undoubtedly define AGW as the principle cause of the planet's accelerating desertification as the reason for Harpo's new policy. Others point to statements by Harpo and his henchman John Baird about only 18% of the UNCCD's budget going directly to remedial work as simply a smokescreen to evade the fact that most of the budget goes into the accredited scientific research they so desperately want to discredit. The UN's researchers will conclude that dirty fossil fuels like coal, tar sands crud, and fugitive methane released by fracking - industries that pay the Conservatives bills - are the primary causes of desertification, an anathema to Harpo and his ilk.

Like their Tea Party Republican counterparts in the U.S., Harpo's conservatives are opposed to science as a matter of faith. They truly believe that their imaginary being - "God" - is sovereign over creation and therefore humans can do no real damage. Harpo belongs to the Christian and Missionary Alliance, an evangelical Protestant church with two million members. Alberta's petro state is one of its great strongholds on the continent. The church believes that the free market is divinely inspired and that non-believers are "lost."

Deluded religious fundamentalists like Harpo and the Tea Partiers are, IMO, the greatest danger humanity faces. They believe, like Dispensationalist Christian James Watt said when discussing his method of environmental management after being chosen Secretary of the Interior by Ronald Reagan, that, “We don't have to protect the environment because the Second Coming is at hand."

3.28.2013

Stunning Documentary 'River of No Return', a Calling to Remember What We've Forgotten



Last night my best friend Pancho and i were treated to a rare glimpse into the relatively untouched and protected part of Idaho named the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness when we watched the PBS-Nature documentary 'River of No Return'. The documentary is shot and narrated by wolf biologist Isaac Babcock and his new wife Bjornen. It's about the year they spent there on their unconventional honeymoon.

At 2.5 million acres the federally protected area is part of the largest road less area left in the lower 48 states It's mountains, rivers and plateaus are home to otters, elk, deer and coyotes, blue birds, Chinook salmon and bighorn sheep and countless others including 9 newly-restored wolf populations who roam freely raising their young and hunting together. Isaac Babcock spent 13 years prior to marrying Bjornen working with the Nez Perce Tribe in Central Idaho in the wolf reintroduction program in the area so he knows it and its residents well. The two document their adventure as they go through the seasons. Near its end Bjornen, an incredible woman as you'll learn if you ever get the chance to see this stunningly beautiful documentary, says, "I found something I didn't know I'd lost".

It's encouraging that areas like this are allowed to exist, encouraging that the remnants of our wild past are in some small way protected from us. Important and beautiful it is, but wilderness it isn't. As the documentary mentions every year hundreds of forest service workers build and maintain the many miles of trails used by horse excursions, adventurous hikers and scientists like Isaac and Bjornen. In addition some ranches that existed before 1980 when the US government protected the area still exist there.

Wilderness, where the flora, fauna, microbes, minerals, forces and faeries live in their interconnected, interdependent oneness, is very rare today on this small blue planet overrun by a species of rogue primates. The dichotomy between human materialistic growth demands and the deeper Gaian reality has created a situation where places that preserve some of the ancient wilderness's genetic inheritance, like the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, is probably the best we can hope for. Its important to remember that this situation is temporary  It's important not to forget that unless we humans learn to live in harmony with our Gaian cousins we will, sooner or later, be reduced to a thin shiny line in the sedimentary record.

My best friend Pancho is seldom interested in TV but last night every time the wolves howled her ears stood up and she jumped to attention. It occurred to me that she remembered some of what we've forgotten.

3.27.2013

Do Your Investments and Pensions Fund Fossil Fuels, Tobacco, Weapons, Land Grabs, Banks etc.?


If you, like the vast majority of folks, have a Defined Contribution pension plan the answer, to quote Queen Sarah of the North, is, "You Betcha". A few decades ago Defined Contribution {DC] plans were almost non-existent then came the huge increase in interest rates of the late 70s and early 80s which rattled everyone, especially workers of all types who thought they were seeing their future dreams dive while at the same time the investor class was seeing theirs skyrocket. Within a few years the old reliable Defined Benefit [DB] plans were being rolled over much to the delight of the investment fund industry.

Investment Fund Managers around the world saw their business explode as public and private pensions switched horses in mid-stream. All investment managers go to the same school - the school of MORE - not the long-term sustainable MORE, the short term now type. Funds earn income from fees, managers earn bonuses based on their fund's profits, fees are generated mostly when investments are rolled over [bought and sold] creating a huge incentive for quick in and out investments. Winning is good but turnover is better in a fund managers mind.

It's the same story whether you live and work in Cyprus, America or here in BC. In fact the inconvenient truth is that pensioners, mutual fund owners, term deposit owners etc. in BC's Lotus Land are at least as heavily invested in unethical industries as anybody because they are often legally mandated to invest heavily in Canada's energy resource heavy economy. None has more stringent investment regulations the BC's Public Employee Pension Fund.

B.C.’s public-sector pensions invest billions in Enbridge, other oil company stocks. They own huge amounts of  IPP shares, of the Peace River area's current Shale Gas fiasco, of the log exporting and coastal first growth logging industry, of...well of everything that many of their union member contributors protest against. Everywhere union and non-union pension and investment funds finance corporate land grabs that contribute to the hunger of the local populations when those lands are converted to bio-fuel crops. Investment funds own a majority of the manufacture, sale and distribution by gun and ammo companies. They own the majority of the tobacco industry's shares. Basically the only investment a fund manager considers as unethical are those that are expressly illegal - like land mine manufacturing.

Banks and other fund managers can be misleading about the fees their funds charge. For instance, as Financial consultant Preet Banerjee explains, “If you have a fund that has an MER of 2.5 per cent, that’s going to consume almost 50 per cent of the potential value of the portfolio over 25 years. When you frame it that way, it becomes very clear that fees are a big deal.” Add to that the chicanery and outright bribery [that's commonly called it's the KBF -kickback factor- by the in-crowd] swirling when the decision is being made as to which firm will manage those huge pension funds with their mandated monthly contributions to be invested [for a fee each time of course] and the fact that 'markets' go both up and down, it ends up that folks would be better off avoiding the whole shady industry and investing any extra money they have in their homes, their kids education or maybe the local organic food co-op.

All this remains invisible to most folks because...well because comforting lies trump inconvenient truths in naked ape psychology every time. But, as those folks in Cyprus are learning when the bubble bursts it's most often them that gets covered in crap.

3.26.2013

Cyprus's International Accounts Have Been Drained, Only the Ordinary Folks Will Lose


Thousands of Cypriots marched today in Nicosia calling for the "Troika to Get Out!"

While Cyprus's banks have been closed for the last 12 days and Cypriots have lined up to withdraw a maximum of €100 per day branch offices of the two largest banks, Laiki and Bank of Cyprus, have remained open in the UK and Russia with no limits on withdrawals or transfers. According to Reuters, the bulk of Russian cash has already fled Cyprus and no one knows exactly how much money has left Cyprus' banks lately.

With credit card transactions stopped for ordinary Cypriots the smart money used an array of techniques to access their money either withdrawing it, transferring it to another casino bank system [Latvia's banks are taking in billions apparently] or simply swapping their deposits into multiple smaller untouchable sized accounts. The 'restructured' banks are supposed to reopen on Thursday and certainly chaos will ensue whenever they do. Large bank deposits in Cyprus are set to lose as much as 40 per cent of their money under a new bailout plan but it appears only the small businesses, pension plans and local savings accounts will still have money to be confiscated.

The teachers, taxi drivers, nurses, etc  that have worked for all of their lives will see their pensions wiped significantly out. The small to medium sized businesses who've always needed to have large accounts, like the grocery stores and shipping companies, to service ongoing transactions will take huge losses. The already high unemployment rates will soar. Everyone will pay for the bad bets of the banksters, everybody except the corporations and the rich who raked in the unearned profits while Cyprus's banking casino was in full swing that is. The Brussels' deal, sealed under pressure from European paymaster Germany, is destined to be the template for future banking crises across Europe. Look for Slovenia, already tottering on the brink, to be the next domino to fall followed by Malta, Luxembourg, Estonia and probably Latvia as soon as their casino implodes.

The only way out for Cyprus, and the others, is to get out of the Dutch, Austrian and German controlled Euro. Then to re-establish, and be in control of, their own currency even if it means a period of functioning on local currencies, barter and Bitcoin for international transfers.

It's important to remember how all these countries and their banks got themselves into all this quicksand. European banks and their fund managers, like greedy capitalist pigs everywhere, believed the comforting lie that the derivative investments - bundled up un-repayable, bubble priced, real estate loans -  being peddled by the Wall St. flim-flamers were sure to rake in lottsa dough. They then turned around and sold bonds to other brain dead investors based on the imagined worth of their derivative holdings. By the time those bonds came due the issuers had already realized their derivatives were worthless so they pleaded to their home countries to save them from their own ignorance and greed. The Eurozone countries then issued sovereign debt bonds to cover their bankster's debts. The national governments', being themselves corrupted by the banksters, announced that despite the world's nosediving international economy - as a result of the US's economic implosion - their country's future unending 'growth' would cover the principle and interest on these bonds. Of course things just got worse and now the only folks with any 'real' capital are the folks who have actually worked to produce something, folks like the workers, farmers, small businesses and pensioners who are now going to pay.

Ain't capitalism grand?

3.25.2013

Why Today's Middle Class Mistakenly believes They Have a Stake in the Fate of Their 'Masters'



Malcolm X later recanted the framing of famous his 1963 speech 'The House Negro and The Field Negro' as he did many others in the final months before his assassination because he realized that it incorrectly focused on racism not on the class struggle itself. It's easy to forgive Malcolm X and so many other African American political and religious visionaries because their ancestors were brought to the New World in chains and, though legally free, they remained immersed in a racist society. Nonetheless his eloquent speech [above] is an excellent example of the real class divisions that have long existed in the service of the 'masters'.

What Malcolm X came to realize was that there is 'No War But The Class War'. That the 'masters' strategy of divide and conquer is older than history. That as the Roman Caesars knew, divide et impera, by dividing what otherwise would be an overwhelming force along otherwise insignificant lines of difference they could rule. The success of 'divide and conquer' has created a world focused on and divided by differences in religion, race, gender, sexual preference, language...just about anything that diverts the people's attention away from the only division that really matters - wealth and class.

No War But The Class War (NWBTCW) is a phrase widely used by diverse groups as a means of underlining the priority of class struggle above other political aims in their opposition to capitalism. The Occupy movement tried recently to refocus the political discourse on the class struggle with their 1% vs. 99% meme. Occupy was so successful that it had to be crushed quickly by the 'masters', and it was.

Occupy was crushed by the same type of internal division within an oppressed group that Malcolm X refers to as the field/house negro division. In his speech he talks about how the house Negroes were given certain limited privileges that allowed them to feel superior to their field negro brethren - to eat the same foods, wear the same clothes, even get a rudimentary education - and how by getting those crumbs the house Negroes mistakenly believed they had a stake in the fates of their 'masters'. The folks in the FBI and the local police forces they coordinated, like the house Negroes, mistakenly believed they had a stake in the fate of their 'masters' - the 1%.

Further, not just those folks who work in the state security apparatus have been successfully programmed into believing they have a stake in the fate of their 1% masters but the almost the entire middle class has too. By allowing themselves to accept the comforting lie that the crumbs they scurry for falling from their 'masters table sets them apart from the poor and gives them a stake in the extractive capitalist economy they become active tools of oppression just like those house Negroes Malcolm X referred to.

Untied we stand. Divided we fall. Falling nearly conquered we are because so many of us choose to believe the comforting lies our capitalist 'masters' have learned to use to divide then sub-divide us instead of allowing ourselves to see the inconvenient truth.

3.23.2013

Who Gets Saved Out When Corporate Banks Get Bailed Out? The Shareholders.and Bondholders


Protesters demand the resignation of the government in Reykjavík, Iceland, on November 15, 2008.

Perhaps the best advice about the Cyprus bank bailout fiasco so far was published earlier today at Waging Non-Violence in an article by George Lakey a Professor at Swarthmore College titled 'People of Cyprus: Follow the Vikings!' In it he explains clearly who owns private banks, who benefits from bailouts and, most importantly, how other countries have successfully rejected the pressure of the international banking cartel when their privately owned banks demanded bailouts. After making his case Lakey concludes that "it's time for Cyprus to join Iceland in treating the bullies like, well, bullies."

Again today the corporate owned and 1% dominated lamestream media unanimously continues their hand wringing, fear filled, propaganda campaign designed to keep the investor class mollified and the rest of us hoodwinked. Many of their articles today center on the Cypriot government's latest attempt to save the investor class, this time by instituting a 25 per cent levy on big bank deposits. For sure it's a bit better than their earlier versions but only a bit. In the end all of these contortions, and all of those by the other countries who been victims of the Troika's blackmail, have one thing in common - they are designed to save the bacon of the various bank's shareholders and bondholders.

Lakey's article reminds us that there are other solutions, that other countries like Sweden, Norway and Iceland have faced similar situations in the last few years and didn't genuflect to the mafia. In Sweden, 90 percent of the banking sector experienced massive losses. The Social Democratic Party there decided against bailouts. Instead they nationalized two of the banks and allowed the rest to go bankrupt. Stockholders were left empty-handed. When Norway’s banks did the same, the Labor government seized the three biggest banks, fired the senior management and made sure the shareholders didn’t get a krone.

Iceland though offers the best parallel.  In 2008 when Iceland suffered one of the worst banking collapses in modern history. As the Icelandic economy began collapsing Icelandic activists surrounded the parliament building, banging pots and pans to disrupt the meetings inside - the 'Kitchenware Revolution'. The protesters demanded, and won, the resignation of the government and the governing board of the Central Bank. The new government who represented the working class pledged that there would be no bailouts and the three largest banks failed. Next they devalued the currency in order to support Iceland’s export market. Finally they repudiated the billions of dollars of debt [bonds] their private banks had rung up to international investors.

The results are that 5 years later all 3 countries have healthy happy people with healthy prosperous economies that are the envy of all the genuflectors. In all three cases the shareholders of the private banks and the bondholders who'd bought their bonds got exactly what they deserved - nothing. Shareholders and bondholders are gamblers. The difference is that Las Vegas casino patrons are true capitalists, they gamble their money and they know that if they win they win if they lose they lose. Bank shareholders and bondholders, who are often pension plans and other mutual funds as well as rich individuals, seem to think that capitalism is great when they win, but somebody should bail them out when they lose. What all of 'em need is a good dose of tough Viking love.

3.22.2013

Cyproits Appear Ready to Revolt Against the International Banking Mafia and Disaster Capitalism


Cypriots seem to be on the verge of  telling the Troika to eat shit. As their political class continues to squirm as their EU masters keep turning up the FEAR dial higher and higher the Cypriot people appear ready to revolt against the international banking system which is increasingly seen a quasi-criminal racketeering organization.

As Ray Pensador of the Daily Kos says, "We're talking about fraudulent financial instruments sold to unsuspecting investors around the world (including pension funds), paid-off rating agencies with financial incentives to lie about the worthiness of those fraudulent investments, and an entire political system on the take, complicit in the looting of what is essentially the people's money--the country's treasury."

The bankster's curtain falling open, it's becoming more obvious by the day that behind all the bellowing fear filled rhetoric coming outta Brussels there's a buncha old crooks pulling the levers. The banking crisis in Cyprus has little to do with the island economy itself but is fallout from the Greek banking system in which Cypriot banks hold assets. In the current turmoil, Cyprus is caught between the rock of the Troika and the hard place of Russian interests. Both are playing hardball to get their hands on Cyprus's assets (including gas and oil). As Naomi Klein's 'The Shock Doctrine' explains, the financial Mafia's racket is really about privatizing national assets, dismantling regulation and cutting state spending.

Up until a few about a week ago when the EU mafia overplayed their hand in Cyprus by demanding the confiscation of the private property of depositors 'the people' of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy had accepted Brussels' bullshit, but now things have changed, Dorthy has arrived in the Emerald City. Her arrival isn't actually the end of banksterism but it could well be the beginning of the end. Cypriots are fortunate that they grow much of their own food which gives them freedom to act independently. The danger is if either the international banksters or the Russian oligarchs allow Cyprus to do so because then military intervention could easily follow.

But then what? Albert Einstein once said "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." But perhaps he overlooked the fact that once the genie of truth is out of the bottle it won't be put back in.

3.21.2013

Salish Sea Inhabitants Cheer as the 'Namgis Nation Opens Canada's First Land Based Salmon Farm


On March 18th, fish entered the 'Namgis First Nation’s Closed Containment Salmon Farm

Whether they walk, crawl or swim Salish Sea inhabitants know that net-pen aquaculture threatens not only the wild salmon but every member of our interconnected biosphere. Consequently, up and down the food chain, from the tiny microbes to the huge orcas, strange cheery sounds can be heard gurgling up from the deep. They are cheers of hope and cheers of praise for The K’udas project created by the ‘Namgis First Nation - The People of the Salmon - whose 4,000-year-old traditions are tied to the Pacific salmon of the Nimpkish River near Port McNeill on northern Vancouver Island.

The ‘Namgis have seen the open-net-pen fish farms proliferate in the nearby Broughton Archipelago, they've protested with Alexandra Morton and know that diseases and pollution from the farms are killing wild runs of salmon and damaging every member of the ecosphere of their Sacred Salish Sea. “The open net farms are so much a danger to our wild stocks. It affects the herring and everything else around the area. The clams are not healthy. They are a dark colour and smell because of the excrement.” said ‘Namgis Chief Bill Cranmer.

Though the open net fish farming industry has fought tooth and nail for years in the courts and the press to deny it, science has long known what the corporate accountants and lawyers deny - open net fish farms are only profitable because of the costs of waste disposal are avoided, externalized. Like almost every corporate capitalist industry, if the true costs of production were accounted for, especially the long term environmental costs, either the present day salmon farming industry wouldn't exist or their product would cost $1000 a pound.

But as a recent study by Dr. Andrew Wright titled 'Technologies for Viable Salmon Aquaculture' points out profits can be achieved when waste is used as a feedstock for a secondary product, such as lettuce. Another article titled 'Closed containment is affordable' by the David Suzuki Foundation about the success of the AquaSeed operation of a closed containment farm to raise coho salmon in Washington State shows that this new approach is already working well there.

The 'Namgis website describing the details of the 'Namgis Closed Containment Salmon Farm explains the recycled water system developed by the Freshwater Institute they use [see the video below]. The 'Namgis Nation has suffered greatly from the loss of their centuries old wild salmon based lifestyle and culture. No one deserves more credit than them for their energy and patience in developing this project which will when complete play a large part in the re-establishment of an intact ecosphere in the Salish Sea. The Mud Report salutes them and adds its small muddy voice to the cheery sounds being heard gurgling up from the deep.

3.20.2013

Harper's Closing of the ELA is an Example of Christian Fundamentalism's War on Science


The remote Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario.

Marguerite A. Xenopoulos of Trent University's Department of Biology wrote a letter to the DFO recently that's been widely published saying in part, "I hope you [DFO] also appreciate that my group at Trent is working diligently to improve Canada's environmental protection." For the Trent University group, which was awarded an $800,000 federal research grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada in 2011, the closure is devastating. .“This decision is totally unnecessary,” she said, “We have our own research funding. I don’t know what they’re thinking.”

A University of Regina biogeochemist, Britt Hall, who is a director of a group dedicated to saving the ELA, said, “The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has declared that the Experimental Lakes Area will be mothballed on March 31st. Scientists won’t even be able to visit the facility, and only a site manager will be on location after that date." But a leaked letter sent from the DFO to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources showed that the Memorandum of Understanding to operate the Experimental Lakes Area won’t come to an end until September 2013.

The Harper government says the decision to close the facility, part of last year’s budget cuts, will save it about $2 million a year, although sources say the actual operating cost of the facility is about $600,000 annually, of which a third comes back in user fees. The Conservative war on science knows no bounds. With logging companies revving up their chainsaws, the ELA could be transformed from a unique space for scientific experiments to a clear cut.

Stephen Harper, like any good Christian Fundamentalist, doesn't need the advice of scientists because he already knows 'The Truth'. He knows that the imaginary being he calls God is sovereign over creation and therefore humans can do no permanent damage. Harper gets all the advice he needs from the Cornwall Alliance, a coalition of right-wing scholars, economists and evangelicals. The Alliance church informs him that the free market is divinely inspired and that non-believers are "lost." Harper knows that as The Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship says environmentalist's and scientists are evil.

A book published by the Alliance 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 in it reads, "The Green Dragon must die... [There] is no excuse to become befuddled by the noxious Green odors and doctrines emanating from the foul beast..."

Harper and his Christian Fundamentalist ilk believe the Bible is without error. They, like other religion's fundamentalist fanatics, are the greatest danger our species faces today because they cannot be reasoned with, no new information can sway them because any deviation from their church's teachings would, in their minds, condemn them to an eternity in hell. What Canadians, and others everywhere, face is nothing less than a philosophical war for the future of the planet.

3.19.2013

Cypriot Politicians Vote to Reject EU Terms for Bailout of Banksters and Bond Holders


Protesters in the capital, Nicosia, chanted, "Thieves, thieves!" outside Parliament.

Cypriot's politicians have voted to reject the European Union and the European Central Bank and the IMF's demand that they confiscate the private property of bank account holders as a condition of the terms in a bailout package with 36 MPs voting against bailout, 19 abstaining. Bank accounts are not bonds or stocks or some other form of investments, they are private property like your house or your car. This matters to everyone everywhere because it's the thin edge of the wedge. If it's allowed happen in Cyprus, it can happen elsewhere in Europe or...anywhere. If everyone everywhere were to read up on bonds, banks and bailouts many mattresses would become lumpier worldwide.

As things become curiouser and curiouser in Nicosia. RT is reporting that Russia's Gazprom, the largest extractor of natural gas and one of the largest companies in the world, is ready to offer Cyprus a private bailout package in exchange for exclusive rights to gas exploration in the island nation. Meanwhile the Germans are demanding that Cyprus not negotiate a bailout with anyone else but the EU at the same time as Cyprus officials are in Russia doing just that.

Once upon a time desperate people robbed the banks, now desperate banks are robbing the people. The desperate people used guns, the desperate banks use computers. Of course almost all of the corporate owned MSM are calling this proposed robbery a bank tax when in reality a bank tax would/should tax the corporate bank profits before dividends are paid out. Just the opposite is true here, this robbery would be to bailout the bond holders who bought Cyprus's bonds because, as all dangerous investments do, they offered high interest. Now the gamblers are losing so they are crying.

Cyprus has a long convoluted history due to its geographical position and the natural resource wealth bequeathed by its geological history. Consequently Cypriot's have had to figure out how to shrug off the shackles of empires for millennia. The revolving empires often dominated Cyprus militarily but never in spirit. Hopefully history will repeat itself in the upcoming days and Cyprus will begin again to live freely and happily within its means.

3.18.2013

Cypriots the Latest Victims of the Unfair Advantage Created by Germany’s Undervalued Currency


The rumors began to swirl on Saturday that their bank accounts were about to be raided under orders from EU's elites as the condition for a bailout of the banks and government. Cypriots reacted rationally by immediately lining up to withdraw as much money as possible which very quickly emptied the cashpoints [bank machines] across the island nation. Others folks living in Europe's 'troubled' economies, and beyond, are today lining up to withdraw their savings while looking on in horror as they realize that it's now official, from this day forward no bank account in the Eurozone (or anywhere really) is safe.

The bank runs underway are in reaction to the abandonment the previous Eurozone policy of protecting depositors in its efforts to address the EU's debt crisis. The bankster's spin is that Cyprus was unable to stabilize its banks, which had amassed €22 billion of Greek private sector debt and were disproportionately hit by the haircut taken by all Greek creditors. In reality as Michael Hewson, senior market analyst at CMC Markets says, “If European policy makers were looking for a way to undermine the public trust that underpins the foundation of any banking system they could not have done a better job.”  Of course bond holders, who made the profits originally, (the 1%) are not asked to take a haircut, only the depositors (the 99%).

The bankster's spin on Cyprus' current economic crisis mirrors their spin on the previous Greek, Spanish, Italian, Irish, Portuguese problems, they blame the victims and impose Shock Doctrine type 'austerity' measures which result first in massive unemployment then in the sale of commonly owned national assets to private corporations to raise the cash necessary to make the payments on the bailouts.

What the banksters and their shareholders refuse to talk about is that this recent European disaster is a product of a huge unfair advantage which Austria, the Netherlands and especially Germany are exploiting.  Austria, the Netherlands and Germany are in a currency union with far weaker economies.  If monetary union had not taken place, if Greece and Germany had retained their own currencies, then the drachma would have devalued perhaps thirty or forty percent against the D-Mark in this century. In other words, Germany is benefiting from a currency that is (perhaps) 20% under-valued for Germany, with all the export advantages this brings.  This is the flip-side of the position of the Greeks and others .  For them, theis currencies are over-valued, which is the reason why they’re being screwed. So when Germany brags about its superior performance, remember its unfair advantage.

In other times, before the globalization of debt, before the IMF and Whirled Bank countries simply devalued their currency to become more competitive. That's what happened in the Great Depression. But the Eurozone countries cannot take a page from the Depression playbook and devalue their own currency, they no longer have one.

The vast majority of folks in Cyprus and the others know all this and that's why unelected governments have been imposed. In Cyprus and the others the 1% would take the haircut if their country told the EU to shove it. A devaluation would impoverish them relative to other 1%ers where as it wouldn't really hurt the 99% much beyond them no longer being able to buy imported foreign goods. On the flip side a devaluation would make Cyprus, and the others, very attractive to tourists, and would make their exports relatively cheaper which would rapidly increase employment.

The governments and banksters in Cyprus and the others refuse to acknowledge that Argentina told the IMF to shove it about 12 years ago and despite all the dire predictions are now one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Argentinians now enjoy nearly full employment, a very livable per capita income and didn't sell off their commonly owned utilities and national treasures. hopefully tomorrow the Cypriot minority government dominated by 1%ers will be forced by the smaller parties to tell the EU to shove it too. If that happens, in the long run, the 1% will get what it deserves and 99% of the Cypriots will party.

3.16.2013

Chávez's Mausoleum Will Become a Place of Pilgrimage for the World's Revolutionaries


Hugo Chávez taught us all that one dedicated revolutionary can change the world.

During his life, and now in our memories, Hugo Chávez has inspired us, given us hope and taught us that one dedicated revolutionary can change the world. As Bolivian president Evo Morales said, "Brother Hugo has left us a great task, a great mission, a marked path…the goal is the liberation of our peoples...you will continue being a source of inspiration as you have been up to now.”

Chávez was laid to rest after final farewell in Caracas yesterday at the end of the Venezuela's official 10 day mourning period. Late on Friday Venezuelan officials ruled out embalming Chávez and leaving his body on permanent public display in a similar fashion as Lenin. The museum now housing Chávez's body will open to the public on Saturday [today] and the government expects the mausoleum to become a "place of pilgrimage for the world's revolutionaries." Many Venezuelans would like Chávez s body to eventually be interred in the National Pantheon, reserved for national heroes such as the country’s founder, Simon Bolivar.

The United Nations General Assembly paid tribute to late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez during a special ceremony on Wednesday, hailing his commitment to social justice and advocacy for society’s most vulnerable groups. The United Nations Human Rights Council also held one minute’s silence for Chávez the day after his death at the request of the Cuban ambassador, Anayansi Rodriguez. She also read a declaration made by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) that expressed its “profound solidarity with the people and government of the sister Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and particularly with the family and friends of comandante Chávez”.

The CELAC, which is made up of all countries of the Americas except the US and Canada, is one of Chavez's revolutionary international accomplishments and there are many. In 2010, Chávez played a major role in the creation of the CELAC, made up of hemispheric partners, excluding the United States and Canada [purposefully]. In 2005, Chávez helped scuttle the U.S. goal of a Free Trade Area of the Americas. Later he spearheaded the formation of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) in 2008. As a Latin American alternative to the U.S.-dominated Organization of American States, the 12-member Unasur proved its value by successfully mediating the Colombia-Ecuador conflict and the Bolivian separatist crisis in 2008.

There's an old saying that you can take the true measure of a person by their enemies. The list Chávez's enemies included every corporate capitalist, every imperialist, every ally of Zionism, every...well everyone that supports the tyranny of the rich. They hated Hugo because he gave us all hope that there might be a bright equitable future for mankind. He used Venezuela's oil revenues to lift the impoverished at home and abroad.

One of the propaganda tactics his enemies are now using to discredit him is there use of the corporate media whores to spread misinformation about Chávez. They attempt to slur Hugo's memory by saying that his popularity in Latin America, and beyond, was the result of him using oil revenues to subsidize Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador and others. It's imperialist bullshit. Chávez bartered oil with Cuba in exchange for the building, equipping and staffing of free medical clinics throughout Venezuela's previously un-served barrios. He bartered oil with Nicaragua in exchange for food that he sold at cost in co-op stores throughout those same barrios. He financed Bolivia and Ecuador's nationalizing [buying them out independently accessed values] at of the international corporate oligarchs, loans which those countries are now repaying with interest. Chávez bailed out Argentina and made money doing it, he financed Brazil's economic turn around which they are repaying in a combination of food and money. His accomplishments at home and abroad are to many to list here, but they, like him will live on in our memories and in our dreams of a fairer world for.our children and their children and their children...


Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans flocked to the streets of Venezuela's capital for a final farewell to Hugo Chávez. The leader's body was laid to rest at the Historic Military Museum on a hillside. 

3.15.2013

The TPP Would Force Canada to Continue LNG Exports Regardless of Environmental Consequences


If/when Harpo and his energy industry hacks sign the proposed free trade agreement is called the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) it means that Canada would be forever ceding its ability to manage its own natural gas resources. It also means that even if Canadian exports are found to harm the economy and the environment - and there is every indication they would - Canada will still be forced to send natural gas overseas to their TPP partners without any review or delay.

The TPP stipulates that instead of going through Canadian courts, foreign investors who believe they haven’t been treated “fairly” can sue the Canadian government under the auspices of an international arbitration panel. This type of clause isn't novel, NAFTA has a similar clause that's right now being invoked by Lone Pine Resources, a Delaware-incorporated oil and gas firm with operations in Canada, who have filed notice of its intent to sue Canada for $250 million under NAFTA's clause over Quebec’s moratorium on fracking.

The US government is facing a backlash from many states that are also worried that the TPP would override their legal rights. For instance Wyoming, hardly a left-wing bastion, is in court demanding that the now secret formulas of the fracking fluids being used by the gas industry be revealed before fracking can continue in the state. Wyoming's concerns are based on the results of contaminated groundwater in and around fracking facitities saying, in part, that liability can't be proven if the fracking fluid's components can't be shown to be the source of the contamination. So upon the US adopting the TPP Wyoming, and other states, would have their rights over-ridden without recourse.

All across the US health concerns are coming to light now that fracking has been going on long enough for them to be seen. As Sandra Steingraber, a distinguished scholar in residence at Ithaca College and founder of Concerned Health Professionals of NY says, “What they’re finding in Pennsylvania are people with rashes, nosebleeds, people with serious abdominal pain and so on. In general, we need better data on all this, and the problem is that fracking got rolled out across the landscape without any advanced health studies being done.” If/when the US adopts the TPP no health or environmental restrictions of any kind will be allowed to stand in the way of energy exports.

Adding this abdication of sovereignty to the long list of problems BC's LNG export fantasy faces in shipping, transporting, fugitive methane leaks [which recent studies have shown that burning fracked gas up to 30 times more environmentally damaging than burning coal], water contamination, long term liability costs and Site C construction makes a person wonder why both of BC's main political parties support this bogus boondoggle.

3.14.2013

Why the Real Cost of BC's Dirty Coal Exports Will be Paid by Everyone Sooner or Later


How much will China's chunky air cost in the long run?

The government plans to grow BC's dirty coal exports in the coming years have been trumpeted by the corporate media as a boon for BC's current budget woes. The most important word being 'current'. Short term accounting, short term thinking, is one of the big differences between the capitalist paradigm and an environmentalist's. This clash of worldviews about coal exports is growing hotter in the US and Canada because the extractive industries in both countries are attempting to expand exports to Asia, especially China. As the corporate/government plans to ramp up exports from Washington, Oregon and BC come to light opposition on both sides of the border are joining forces.

Coal has two main uses in Asia and beyond - steel production and electricity generation. Both of these are growing exponentially in Asia because their export industries are too. These Asian exporters are primarily producing needless crap for the western consumer culture. Industrialists in the Far East know they are currently the free trade era's producer of choice but that status won't last for ever because wages and living standards there are rising in concert with the pollution and that one day soon India's youthful lower cost demographics will take over so they must exploit their current advantage quickly. That's how free trade works. Borders are invisible to capital but contain labour thus creating a rush to the bottom. India too will have a short horizon as Africa has an even younger population and once India's working conditions improve the capitalists will move on again.

Consequently the Asians will end up paying a bill for the the externalities, the pollution, who's total will far exceed the current short term profits in the long term just as Mexicans already know full well. Coal's externalities happen at both the extraction and the consumption ends. Here in BC as in Wyoming, Australia, Russia, Mongolia and everywhere else vying for a slice of Asia 'market' the extraction industries don't want to talk about all the costs, they want us to see current cash flows but don't want to talk about coal extraction's huge pollution footprint.

As a result of the geologic formation of coal deposits they always contain pockets of methane that are released during mining [remember the canary in the coal mine?] and other volatile organic chemicals that end up in the groundwater. In addition coal is crushed to facilitate shipping which creates huge amounts of dust both near the mine and all along the route it's shipped on. Coal dust contains many health concerns, some merely dangerous, some deadly. Coal may be a lot easier to cleanup in case of a spill but that's about its only redeeming feature. Coal not only creates far more CO2 pollution when burned but it also creates just as big on a pollution footprint as fracked gas or heavy crude where it's extracted.

China alone plans to build 1000 large coal-powered plants in the coming 2 decades each producing 1000 megawatts of electricity each of which will also discharge about 6 million tons of carbon per year, equivalent to the emissions from 2 million cars. Demand for coal in 2010 resulted in a traffic jam 75 miles long caused by more than 10,000 trucks carrying supplies from Inner Mongolia. Coal is everywhere and everybody is racing to build their extraction capacity. Supply has already overtaken demand, BC's current coal export fantasy will end in another boondoggle when the bills for all the long term costs get delivered.

3.13.2013

BC's Politicians are Convinced that Fracked Gas and Coal Exports Will Defy History


British Columbia's budget deficit stems from the same type of short-term mismanagement as Alberta's. About 150 years ago BC's aboriginal population enjoyed real wealth. They lived within vast tracts of virgin forest that were drained by countless crystal clear waterways teeming with life which were all surrounded by massive glaciers along with massive mineral and energy deposits...then came the settlers -us. At first the settlers settled in a few small pockets and traded with the First Nations, then they found the golden rocks that drove settlers crazy and led to the frenzy of exploitation, extraction and exhaustion of natural resources that continues to this day.

Of course those first settlers never considered the long term, they saw themselves specially anointed by their imaginary being with dominion over the 'endless' bounty they'd 'discovered' in this vast land inhabited by heathens. The settlers were drawn into BC's interior by their dreams of fortune, fame and gold but once they arrived they found lumber and salmon far easier to harvest than gold and set about selling every damned bit they could.

With BC being the vast resource rich land that it is no one, especially those raking in the money, thought about the mathematical certainty that on planet earth 'endless' always has an end. Sustainability wasn't in the settler lexicon, but MORE was, so on they went extracting and exhausting area after area, mile after mile, building their fortunes on nature's sequestered wealth. The settlers built roads then railroads to carry their plunder to the ocean for export. The decades rolled by, the settler's numbers ballooned, the once 'endless' forestry and fishery resources dwindled but still no one dared see what the future held.

Today the fisheries are plundered and we export farmed fish, the forests are leveled and we export most of what little is left as raw logs to the US and Asia where wages for processing are much lower, and we've found new resources to plunder, but we haven't learned a damned thing.

Today BC's main political parties agree, much as their predecessors did, that we can and should finance our lives by extracting nature's sequestered wealth as fast as possible. Today we see coal and fracked gas as the 'endless' resources, just as those 1st settlers saw the forests and fish. Today we don't care about the future anymore than the settlers did. Today we care about shopping, about the latest electronic gizmo, about a shiny new car to drive to work, about lottsa new clothes, we care about our wants not about the future.

Today BC's government has a deficit despite it having recently sold off the people's forests and railroad to provide the illusion of book balancing. Instead of wisely using the real wealth they found here just 150 years ago as a good farmer does his field they took everything and turned it into mansions and money. Now, just as then, BC's politicians are convinced that the mirage of fracked gas and the folly of exporting coal will allow the shoppers to keep shopping long enough for them to get rich on the corporate largess.

At least those first settlers had the excuse of worrying about having enough, about their children having enough, but it's really all about shopping now. We no longer export our natural resources to assure our survival, we export them to pay for the plastic crap we lineup for at the mall. Most of us are no longer driven crazy by dreams of yellow rocks, now we are driven crazy by credit card debt, by mortgages and rents on inflated real estate, by the new car the neighbor just leased, by...by our imaginary need for MORE.

So here we are, just like with Alberta's Tar Sands crud, the 'markets' are awash in fracked gas and coal and the plummeting of poorly planned government revenues. Just like Alberta, BC's solution is MORE. Round and round we go on history's resource extraction carnival wheel, when we stop nobody knows, but stop we will one way or another.

3.12.2013

Alberta's Budget Woes Began When Free Trade Forced MORE Resource Exports


Alberta's finances have been in the headlines lately in part because it's hard to believe that a place so rich in natural resources could be unable to balance their books. Of course some of Alberta's problems are homegrown but not all of them. Back in the days before Mulroney, before Free Trade, Alberta had a much broader based economy, just like the rest of Canada. Back then Albertans didn't just export stuff they made stuff and most of the stuff they didn't make they bought from other places in Canada that made that stuff. In exchange the other folks in Canada bought stuff from Alberta.

For sure mosta that stuff could be made cheaper in Mexico or China or India, and for sure the industrialists would make lots more money by eliminating the duties that protected Canada's jobs. In rode Mulroney's Conservatives on approximately the same 40% mandate Harpo has now. Despite losing the election by 60%-40%, despite the howls of protest from 'the people', the industrialists who backed Mulroney got what they'd paid for - Free Trade.

Almost immediately factories starting closing, good paying manufacturing jobs started going south and jobs at Mickey D's and Starbucks started replacing them. As government revenues from both employers and employees headed south along with the jobs governments, even Alberta's were feeling the pinch so they turned to Canada's embedded wealth - its resources - which had always provided a portion of their revenues. Now the revenue pressure was on and the only solution offered by governments, the extraction industries and capitalism itself was, and still is, MORE.

Along came the cash cow called the Tar Sands, surely if the extractors could just extract MORE of it fast enough [with the help of government subsidies of course] and export MORE of it fast enough all would be well. As the manufacturing jobs turned into 'service' jobs the price of oil climbed and the Tar Sands expended as fast as possible because everybody knew MORE was better. Alberta dumped Peter Lougheed's Norway like long term resource revenue fund and started living off the immediate proceeds of resource exports.

MORE once again turned out to be worth-less when instead of the dwindling supply predicted by Peak Oil instead became new types of energy  being found in new places. Alberta was trapped, it was addicted to MORE, its only solution was MORE MORE. Now Alberta has developed and exported so much MORE that it has flooded the US market with its sickly, expensive to refine, crud and the price for it is so low that the Alberta government is in financial trouble. Of course some might suggest raising royalties which are among the world's lowest, or raising taxes on the assets of the already rich, but no, Alberta's solution is...you guessed it...MORE.

To summarize, in the good old days Canada had a relatively strong and stable economy then it adopted 'Free Trade' which cut thousands of manufacturing jobs which in turn cut governments revenues. In response Canada opted for all out natural resource exploitation and export which caused their currency value to jump which meant even larger job loses and lower government revenue. In response Canada, and especially Alberta, doubled down and exported even more resources resulting in a flooded market and has sent the price of their Tar Sands crud into the toilet and their budget into a deficit. Those conservatives and Conservatives sure know how to handle the economy eh!

Canada's Dutch Disease inflated currency makes it easier for those who still have a middle class lifestyle to buy needless imported crap but overall the quality of life in Canada has gone south along with the manufacturing base that used to provide decent jobs, that used to make the vast majority of Canada's people secure. Now Canadians have more folks lined up at Starbuck's for a job, more poverty, more stress, more, more, MORE of everything, except common sense.

3.07.2013

Rand Paul's Filibuster Exposes the Democrats as Hypocrites and Obama as the More Effective Evil


Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky

Glenn Greenwald tweeted: "Fascinating day: Tea Party Senator filibusters torture-supporting CIA nominee over civil liberties, while Dem establishment mocks & fumes."  Having vowed to keep speaking till he could no longer speak in the name of civil liberties, Sen. Rand Paul won the support of odd bedfellows: Code Pink, Ted Cruz, Glenn Greenwald, Marco Rubio and mr. mud along with others everywhere.

Everybody who follows American poly-ticks knows that yesterday Rand Paul, a Libertarian, the son of Ron Paul and one of the seven people who voted against the NDAA, shamed the whole Democratic party. Sure there was one Dem, Ron Wyden of Oregon, who joined Paul to allow him bathroom breaks [but said he'd vote for Brennan's confirmation nonetheless]. Where was Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, Sherrod Brown, Pat Leahy, Jeff Merkley? And where the fuck is Bernie Sanders?

Rand Paul, like his father Ron, opposes war all wars. Like Jon Queally of Common dreams said, "Rand Paul's attempt to defend our civil liberties - our very lives, maybe - was not based on partisanship. He criticized Bush for a good while yesterday, as well as speaking out against the wars - ALL of them".

The Pauls are different. They are ideologues, not politicians... screwy, but not bought. There are MANY issues where the Paul's viewpoints are considered somewhere between disgusting and indefensible by the majority of Americans, but on this issue - domestic drone assassinations and a few others like ending all the wars, legalizing drugs and hemp cultivation the Pauls are to be praised for both their heartfelt positions and their bravery in the face of the Empire' potential wrath.


This was brought about by Attorney General Holder's legal opinion delivered in a letter to Rand Paul the other day saying that, "Obama can target US citizens on US soil for killing without any judicial or other review." It's the most 'chilling' example yet of the 'imperial presidency' that has greatly expanded under Obama. During last fall's election Obama was re-elected in large part because folks saw him as the lesser of two evils. But instead, as many feared, Obama is really the most effective 'Evil'. If Romney or any other Republican declared themselves legally able to carry out extra-judicial assassinations of US citizens anywhere the uproar from Democrats would have been deafening. But when Obama does it they are silent and silence is complicity.

3.06.2013

Hugo Chávez’, the Simon Bolivar of Our Times, Will Live On In the Hearts and Memories of 'The People'


Venezuelans mourn the death of Hugo Chávez outside the hospital in Caracas where he died on Tuesday.

Last night, like millions of people around the world, we had a little wake. We toasted the life of a great man with few cervesas and some mota. It wasn't sad, after all Hugo Chávez’ lived his dream like we all should. He gave every moment of his life to what he believed in. Chavez life is an inspiration to us all.

This morning reading so many moving tributes by so many talented writers over a mas-grande cafe negro it was obvious that Hugo Chávez’ was a giant who cast a shadow far beyond Venezuela. Among those world leaders and supporters sharing their condolences and commenting on the legacy left on his country, Latin America, and the world was Oliver Stone, who said, "I mourn a great hero to the majority of his people and those who struggle throughout the world ... Hated by the entrenched classes, Hugo Chavez will live forever in history. My friend, rest finally in a peace long earned."

Derrick O'Keefe's piece 'Hugo Chávez’, Undefeated' said, "The rich and powerful of the world did not hate Chavez because he was a dictator... They hated him because he was symbolic of a threat to the dictatorship of Capital, a figurehead of a continent alive with social movements and millions of people conscious of their political power."
Greg Grandin wrote a great biography at 'The Nation' titled On the Legacy of Hugo Chávez
And Oscar Guardiola-Rivera quoted Chávez’  in his article titled 'Hugo Chávez Kept His Promise to the People of Venezuela', saying that Chávez "had discovered himself not by looking within, but by looking outside into the shameful conditions of Latin Americans and their past. He discovered himself in the promise of liberation made by Bolívar. 'On August 1805,' wrote Chávez, Bolívar 'climbed the Monte Sacro near Rome and made a solemn oath.' Like Bolívar, Chávez swore to break the chains binding Latin Americans to the will of the mighty. Within his lifetime, the ties of dependency and indirect empire have loosened. From the river Plate to the mouths of the Orinoco river, Latin America is no longer somebody else's backyard."

As The Mud Report said some weeks ago, "Though Hugo Chávez’ character and politics have been often 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 so many fair and free 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 free quality health care, the poor get 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 will long a hero to anti-imperialists around the globe because he 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, yesterday was Hugo's turn, but his legacy will live on in the hearts and memories of 'the people' both living and those yet unborn."



3.05.2013

Transporting, Processing and Shipping BC's Natural Gas Almost as Dangerous as Alberta's Tar Sands


Coastal First Nations members blockading pipeline surveyors

In addition to all the other problems surrounding BC's LNG boondoggle there's the reality that transporting the unprocessed gas as as well as processing it and shipping the processed LNG associated BC's proposed LNG projects would have significant impacts on both land and water. The Dogwood Initiative report on the dangers of LNG transport outlines many of the serious dangers involved that are being overlooked at the moment perhaps because there are so many other huge gaping wounds in the logic of BC's LNG proposals.

For example, no matter how carefully they construct the Pacific Trail Pipeline the building of a 500km pipeline through virgin forest and over hundreds of waterways guarantees the destruction of a huge tract of wilderness which will result in habitat loss, species extinctions and groundwater pollution. A natural gas pipeline rupture wouldn't spill toxic tar sands crud but it would be highly flammable and accordingly would require a wide right-of-way to ensure that an explosion wouldn't start a forest fire disaster. Add to that the accompanying right of way for the power lines from the Site C dam necessary and you have one hell of a huge scar across BC.

A huge scar and a huge logging/clearing operation providing some temporary jobs and requiring lots of costly equipment to be financed. A win for the IWA, the truckers, the log exporters, the equipment manufactures, and the bankers, all of whom are cheerleaders for the project. The flora and fauna from microbes to fish to bears to birds to...are the losers and, as always, the silent victims.

Then there's the processing into LNG which itself has a huge footprint both in area destroyed for construction and the pollution caused by it's operation. Here too there are winners and losers. The Haisla First Nation who would see Shell's Kitimat LNG Terminal  built on Haisla reserve land would receive lease money and jobs both in construction and ongoing operation which is why the Haisla First Nation has parted ways with an aboriginal advocacy group, saying its interests no longer align with Coastal First Nations. The Haisla have been bought off but as the Coastal First Nations website clearly says the other members haven't. The Haisla, who still oppose the Northern Gateway Pipeline, might be well advised to remember that their concerns about the Tar Sands crud have been supported by other First Nations across BC and remember that similar ecological concerns are now being faced by First Nations in Northeast BC due to the groundwater and methane pollution there.

Finally there's all the LNG tankers who are just as subject to running aground in the world's 4th most dangerous waterway between Kitimat and the open ocean. Those tankers wouldn't spill Tar Sands crud but the LNG itself is so explosive, so dangerous, that international shipping regulations require all other vessels out of the area which would cripple the FN fisheries, the BC Ferries and the shipping of all goods and people in/out of Kitimat. Scientists have also documented the considerable deleterious effects on marine life that just sailing these huge tankers and their fleet of tugs would have even if there was no disaster. These tankers wouldn't be shipping crud but they would still have thousands of gallons of dirty fuel and so would the tugs and every ship everywhere has 'small' fugitive leakage. An LNG tanker wouldn't have to explode or sink to cause an environmental catastrophe just their everyday presence would, over time, do the trick.

Winners and losers, the few, the industrialists, the bankers, the unions and the political parties they support win, but in every case the many, our cousins the flora and fauna, the microbes and the faeries lose.

3.04.2013

Scientists Say Methane Leakage In North Dakota Alone Equals CO2 Pollution From 2.5 Million Cars



Because of fracking you can see North Dakota's gas flares from space at night.

Research conducted at Cornell University proved that methane, the second most important gas contributing to global climate change, is 33 times more potent than CO2 over a 100 year period or 105 times more powerful over a 20 year period. In other words, short term releases of methane can do more damage than CO2 emissions. The researchers found that between 3.6% and 7.9% of methane from shale gas production escapes to the atmosphere in venting and leaks over the lifetime of a well.

Though widespread testing is only now getting underway, where it has been done the scientists conducting the tests are reporting alarmingly high methane emissions underscoring questions about the environmental benefits of the boom in natural-gas production. One set of results from a field study in the Uinta Basin of Utah show an eye-popping 9% of the total production. Why is 9% important? Because electricity generated from natural gas from a field with 9% leak has a carbon footprint nearly five times that of coal-generated electricity. It is now estimated that methane emissions from shale gas are nearly 30 times more than those of conventional gas over the lifetime of a well.

Obviously methane leakage is a huge problem for the fracking fraternity. Leakage occur during normal operations, such as drilling, processing, transmission, and distribution of shale gas. As the fuel is transported through normal procedures, emissions occur both through intentionally made vents and non-intentional leakages. Venting is a necessary procedure involving the "continuous bleed" of gas from devices that control gas flows, levels, temperatures, and the exertion of pressure on equipment. Unintentional leakage occurs in all parts of the infrastructure, from connections between pipes and vessels to valves and other equipment. Then there's fugitive leakage - the unknown unknown.

Just how much fugitive methane bubbles up through the fractured rock into our aquifers, into our wells, into our air trough surface cracks isn't systematically tested, but the results so far are frightening. The MSM's focus is on the 'investment' aspect surrounding BC's LNG boondoggle but in reality the biggest losses won't be to the investor class they'll be to everybody else. Not only will BC's LNG nightmare not be profitable, not only will it poison Canada's water, but it already is releasing millions of tons of heat trapping gasses that will, over time, contribute heavily to our rising sea levels, to compromising our food supply and causing massive species extinction [including perhaps our own] through ocean acidification.

Why? Why would they do it? Why would our government and business leaders continue this march into this quagmire? Many jaded skeptics, like mr.mud, conclude one of the oldest known political/economic metrics - the KBF [kick back factor] - is at work in BC's boondoggle and most others like it around the world.

3.02.2013

Limited Liability Laws Mean BC Taxpayers Will Pay for Fracking's Environmental Contamination


As the Pembina Study titled 'How Albertans Could End Up Paying for Oil Sands Mine Reclamation' shows, "Limits on liability protect potential polluters at the expense of the environment and taxpayers. They are bad for the environment because they reduce incentives to improve safety practices, making accidents more likely. They are bad for taxpayers because, should an accident occur, they provide inadequate compensation for damages, leaving taxpayers (or uncompensated victims) holding the bag."

Corporations, and their government stooges, argue that without protection from the liability created by unpredictable catastrophic black swan type effects , no one will develop, participate in, or invest in risky projects or industries. These concerns, however, fail to fully account for the harmful consequences of limits, including that they encourage risky behaviour, and that they subsidize harmful activities at the expense of taxpayers and victims of pollution, contradicting the polluter pays principle and rights-based approaches to these problems. Environmental lawyer Dianne Saxe has written that “One of the biggest ways that our legal system contributes to enormous, high-risk accidents is to allow those responsible to limit their financial liability. Liability limits remove a massive financial incentive to take precautionary measures and avoid risk-taking, decreasing the level of care."

As Pembina's report shows Albertan's could end up being on the hook for between $100-$150 billion dollars just in reclamation costs that the Environmental Protection Security Fund can't cover let alone the unknown significant environmental impacts,including emissions of greenhouse gases another pollutants, surface water withdrawals, contamination and disruption of groundwater, toxic seepage from tailings lakes into groundwater, habitat fragmentation and impacts on wildlife that 50 years of operations will create.

This isn't a new issue, governments have long been warned about this as well as having direst experiences. For instance there's Sydney’s Tar Ponds on the eastern coast of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia where one hundred years of steel and coke production left more than a million tonnes of contaminated soil and sediment which has cost Canadian taxpayers over $4billion so far. And the Faro Mine in the Yukon Territory where 25 years worth of zinc and lead extraction has led to over $450 million in environmental liabilities. Then there's the Giant Mine outside Yellowknife where 50 years of gold mining has created an estimated $400 million in environmental liabilities. In each of these cases the corporations didn't even pay the first $40million they just, after first paying themselves and their shareholders profits and bonuses, just declared bankruptcy and walked away which is why Alberta setup the Environmental Protection Security Fund, as underfunded as it is, to begin with.

Before the corporations invested in Alberta's Tar Sands or BC's LNG nightmare, they had their accountants do the math. They invested their capital based on the fact that limited liability meant limited costs for buying insurance and thereby increased profits. So if governments try to change the rules now those corporation's lawyers would just sue. If they tried to change the rules for new operations or expanded existing operations the newcomers would sue because of the uneven playing field created.

Consider the case of Jessica Ernst who's lawsuit asks for $33 million Canadian in damages to her land along Rosebud River in Alberta. Her suit claims gas drillers ruined groundwater, violating her rights. Her water well, originally drilled in 1986, showed no methane at the time. New test results showed high levels of methane, a hydrocarbon called F2 and two other chemicals. As a result, Ernst has sued Encana, Alberta Environment and Water, and the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board.

Enbridge and the governments have tried to 'delay and exhaust' Ernst but have failed. Ernst owns one ranch, how many others in fracking country are waiting to see the results? Many would be a good guess. How many others will experience contamination of their water as time goes on and the toxic chemicals being blasted under the sub-surface water they have legal rights to percolate upwards and laterally through the smashed shale? Many more would be a good bet. With a limited liability cap of $40million it's easy to see that BC's taxpayers are in jeopardy.

Imagine now how much jeopardy Alberta and BC taxpayers could face if a huge unpredictable catastrophe struck like the BP disaster in the Gulf a couple of years ago who's cleanup is now expected to eventually cost $50billion. Imagine how much it would cost to cleanup the MacKenzie River or delta where half the year 2 lbs mosquitoes patrol, the other half it's covered in ice and 2000lb polar bears reign.

As Donald Rumsfeld once famously said, "There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know." Those guys, the unknown unknowns, are the reason for liability insurance, yet Canada and most other countries refuse to acknowledge them and instead of requiring real insurance put their citizens in jeopardy.