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Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - 2 hours 6 min ago
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Gerald Caplan suggests that Rogers and Bell might be ripe for nationalization - though it's also worth pointing out that we don't have to guess what happens when a Crown delivers telecommunications services:
The British Labour Party has begun to make the case that market fundamentalism, or neoliberalism, is not necessarily the best way for society to operate. Specifically, it’s been trying to show that private enterprise is not always superior to public enterprise.

Beginning with Margaret Thatcher, British governments have denuded the UK of almost all public enterprises, from British Airways to the Royal Mail. The Labour Party Opposition wants to remind Brits that some entities actually make more sense under public auspices. Fortunately for them, I am in a position to offer my Labour comrades foolproof evidence for their gambit. Two words: Rogers and Bell.
...
Long ago, when I was co-chairing the federal task force on Canadian Broadcasting, a few creative Canadians advocated that the telecommunications oligopolies be put under public ownership. It made perfect sense and was even arguably the Canadian way, like the CBC. But it was a political non-starter. No government has been prepared to consider it. The Harper government has tried to make easy political points by calling for a another major national player to join the game, as if that would force the existing predators to shape up. It’s a bad joke on us poor suckers.

But maybe it’s not too late for a real solution. Hey, Tom Mulcair: bringing Bell and Rogers and Telus and Shaw under public ownership? Now that’s a cause worth marching for. You’d unite suffering Canadians in their tens of millions from coast to coast to coast, getting them out onto the streets at last. Occupy Rogers! Occupy Bell! Everyone’s mad as hell at these guys, so why do we still have to take it?- The Vancouver Sun is right to highlight the importance of the labour movement in advance of the Labour Day weekend. Meanwhile, B.C.'s provincial government has repeatedly attacked workers with unconstitutional legislation before shifting to a strategy of trying to bankrupt teachers rather than funding a functional education system - which apparently doesn't rate a mention.

- Robyn Benson discusses how the Cons are further restriction workers' access to employment insurance, as well as what unions and workers can do to fight back:
Under restrictive new rules introduced by the Harper government, working people who have paid into the EI fund for years receive no assistance when they find themselves jobless. Sure, they can always appeal, and then wait more than a year for a hearing. There used to be 1,000+ part-time referees to hear their cases: that’s now down to fewer than 70 people, trying to handle a backlog of 10,000 appeals. And after a lengthy delay, more than 80% of claimants lose their appeals anyway. Small wonder, we might think: the new EI appeals tribunal members are Conservative appointees, and several have donated money to the Conservative party.

New EI policies, designed to hurt rather than help; new appeal mechanisms, rigged against claimants; and employee cuts everywhere, made without rhyme or reason across the public service, as the Parliamentary Budget Office has just reported. And those cuts are far from over.

This is obviously a recipe for disaster from an unemployed person’s point of view. But it’s no picnic for our front-line workers in charge of the EI programs, either. All too frequently they get blamed for the bad policies they are required to administer. Yet it is government-created backlogs and delays and tight new rules that are the problem here, even if that very government has pointed the finger at its own employees on occasion to cover up its poor decision-making, and gone after conscientious whistle-blowers who object to being ordered to treat EI claimants unfairly.
...
It’s pretty easy to see how common cause can be made here. This Labour Day, we should re-commit ourselves to forging these natural alliances between ourselves and the general public. We’re in for a challenging few months with the current round of collective bargaining—maybe the toughest period we’ve ever experienced as a union. But we’re not facing this government alone. Countless Canadians have their own reasons to want the Harper government gone, and can’t wait until the federal election next year. Time to join forces, folks. We’re going to need each other.  - Andrew Duffy reports that in the absence of a functional census, Statistics Canada is now looking for alternatives which will involve amalgamating far more information about Canadians through a bevy of government databases in the hope of assembling the information which can no longer be collected directly.

- Meanwhile, Susan Delacourt wonders whether mandatory voting may be the best way to ensure broad public participation in the political decisions which affect us all.

- Finally, Jane Taber and Shawn McCarthy report on the agreement of Canada's premiers as to the outline (PDF) of a national energy strategy. But one point in particular stands out:
A Canadian Energy Strategy should:
...
  • Maintain the highest degree of environmental safeguards and protection, including by addressing climate change, climate resilience and reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally.
Which is to say that even Canada's oil-producing provinces are able to agree that a federal energy strategy should take into account the need for global emission reductions - leaving no justification at all for the Cons' habit of cheerleading for fossil fuels without accounting for the environmental damage done by their use elsewhere.

Stephen Harper, Nobel Peace Prize nominee

Creekside - 3 hours 38 min ago

Not content with awarding Stephen Harper their Gold Medallion human rights award and pledging to create a Stephen Harper Centre for Human RightsB’nai Brith Canada announced yesterday they will be nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Frank Dimant from their statement :
“Moral clarity has been lost across much of the world, with terror, hatred and antisemitism filling the void,” said Frank Dimant, CEO, B’nai Brith Canada. “Throughout, there has been one leader which has demonstrated international leadership and a clear understanding of the differences between those who would seek to do evil, and their victims." Yeah, about victims ... one minute of aerial footage of Al-Shejaiya in Gaza



Back to Frank : 
“In accordance with the rules of the Nobel Foundation it gives me great pleasure to nominate in my capacity as Professor of Modern Israel Studies at Canada Christian College, Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the Nobel Peace Prize in honour of the outstanding moral leadership he has demonstrated.”Frank Dimant is a professor at Charles McVety's Canada Christian College because Charles McVety awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2004 at a ceremony attended by Jason Kenney.
Texas millionaire televangelist and Christian Zionist Pastor John Hagee and his Christians United For Israel rents office space from McVety for his Canadian operations at Canada Christian College.

Dimant : "We [Jews] and Israel are not alone because of you and the tremendous leadership of Dr. McVety and Dr. Hagee.” Go on, click that last link.

Three years ago in this Christian College video, Dimant, Jason Kenney (far left), and McVety (behind Dimant) shared the podium as Dimant courted his presumably mostly Christian audience. He praised Harper and the Cons as friends of Israel and called on God to protect Israel from the United Nations "as we await the messianic times which are just around the corner."

In March 2014, in a more intimate setting in a synagogue, Dimant spoke about his relationship to Harper
" I happen to know Mr.Harper from the days he was in the opposition and the truth is we were on first name basis because the Jewish community was not in favor of Conservatives  - at that time they were called the Alliance Party and before that the Reform Party.  The Jewish community was traditionally liberals and the Jewish community was very much onside with the Liberal Party of the day.  When Mr. Harper and before him Mr. Stockwell Day wanted to get their message out to our community, all the doors were closed in their face.  It's very difficult to believe when today you see the world's premier friend of Israel - that when he wanted to speak about his attitude towards Israel, that door was shut. Only one organization at that time - and I was B'nai Brith and our publication The Jewish Tribune - gave them a forum, gave him a platform, gave them an opportunity to say : 'This is how we really stand on Israel; this is where we stand on anti-Semitism; and this is where we stand on the values that we share with you.'  I've had the good fortune in my lifetime to work with many governments.  I've gone to Auschwitz with Prime Minister Chretien,  I've gone to Israel with Art Egglington, I've gone to Israel with Jean Chretien, and I went now with our Prime Minister again. [Note : Harper's visit this past January]  And I saw the difference, saw the difference.  And the difference was that here you had a man like Harper who you can feel - FEEL - the love that he has for the State of Israel, the affection that he feels for the Jewish people. So you may ask why. Why? Good question. Mr. Harper is a religious Christian.  He believes. He believes when it says "Blessed are those who bless the Jewish people."  And he says Canada is blessed because we bless the Jewish people. He really deeply believes that. As does Jason Kenney, as do some of the other ministers - they are religious people. So they feel it."
As to the Nobel Peace Prize nomination, I'm blaming Michael Byers. 
Six weeks ago in The Harper Plan for unilateral Canadian disarmament , Byers suggested that despite all his tough military world stage talk, Harper might be eligible for one because he has "reduced defence spending to just 1% of GDP — the lowest level in Canadian history".  

Yeah, I know - you're still stuck back there at the idea of a Stephen Harper Centre for Human Rights.
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Time To Revisit The Question Of Mandatory Voting?

Politics and its Discontents - 4 hours 8 min ago
In her column today, Susan Delacourt suggests that it is. While my own opposition to mandatory voting, the reasons for which I outlined in an earlier post, remains unchanged, she does offer a rather tantalizing reason for its consideration:

Some of the dumbing-down of discourse, in particular, has taken place because political campaigns have become preoccupied with simply getting out the vote (often with shiny baubles) rather than a debate of ideas.

If it would mean the end of the notorious Conservative 'narrowcasting' to its base, with their repugnant and divisive appeals to the basest instincts of voters, there might indeed be some merit to the concept. I have had my fill of this sort of thing:







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Ignoring The Obvious

Northern Reflections - 4 hours 9 min ago
                                                           http://www.breitbart.com/

Stephen Harper has just completed his ninth tour of the North. These tours provide the prime minister with an opportunity to serve up warm rhetoric. On this occasion, Harper saved his most heated words for Vladimir Putin. But he said nothing about the North's increasingly warm atmosphere. Jeffrey Simpson writes:

Nowhere in Canada is the impact of climate change more increasingly evident than the North. And yet, the words “climate change” are never heard from Mr. Harper in the North, as if the idea they connote are so distasteful that he cannot bring himself to utter them.

Every summer, surrounded by the evidence of Northern climate change – melting ice, widening sea lanes, disruption of traditional hunting patterns, shifting tundra, increased sun reflection, changing weather patterns – the Prime Minister spends a week in the region without ever drawing attention to the impact and challenges of climate change.

Global warming doesn't fit into the prime minister's frame:

The surrealism of a Harper visit is like that of an explorer who lands in an unknown place, takes careful note in his diary of the animals, flora, fauna, rocks and trees but misses all the human inhabitants. Mr. Harper’s refusal even to speak the words “climate change” in the North cannot be from ignorance or inadvertence; it must be by design, like everything he does.

That design is evidently to draw as little attention as possible to an issue he has found uncomfortable since even before he became Prime Minister.

As an economist, Mr. Harper believes most measures to combat the problem of global warming will be too costly. As a Conservative politician, he believes no votes are to be gained by resolute action, given that so many of his core supporters are doubters and deniers of the reality of climate change. As an Albertan, he will protect the fossil fuel industries, and in particular bitumen oil, at all costs and by all means. As an international leader, he sees some other countries talking a better game than they play, and does not wish Canada to be made the fool by doing anything dramatic.

Mr. Harper is a man who sees what he wants to see and hears what he wants to hear -- as he ignores the obvious. It is truly remarkable that a man whose chief talent is ignoring the obvious is Prime Minister of Canada.



Inside Stephen Harper's Head: The Trudeau Obsession

Montreal Simon - 7 hours 12 min ago


I have no idea why anyone in the MSM would want to psychoanalyze Stephen Harper. 

It seems something better left between a psychiatrist and his patient. Or in Harper's case a trembling shrink and his maniac.

But Paul Wells, who would be his Boswell and his Dr Welby, apparently could not be restrained.

And has made a desperate attempt to try to understand Harper's depraved obsession with Justin Trudeau 
Read more »

What a strange week

Cathie from Canada - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 23:23
What a strange week it has been -- horrible bus crashes and nine-year olds with Uzis and Russia invading the Ukraine but lying about it while the American media flips out about Obama's suit colour and England flips out about ISIS -- and I flip out because Shaw in Saskatoon doesn't carry the new TSN channels yet.
Maybe its time for September Song.



Or maybe someting a little cheerier!

BREAKING: Stephen Harper Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize !!!!

Montreal Simon - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 20:19


OK. I realize you are staring at that headline in disbelief. And wondering whether I've finally lost it.

But then so am I eh?

And I wrote it.

Because as bizarre, or as horrible, or as insane, or as obscene as it may be, it's true.
Read more »

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 20:15
Lahox - Feel

Mount Polley Update

Sister Sages Musings - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 18:10

Thanks to Laila Yuile, here.

This brings us the first glimpse into life on the ground in Likely, BC. The initial report is here.

Gary E. over at How Bad is the Record also has some thoughts on this, here.

We will not forgive. We will not forget.

Expect us.

And a Happy Labour Day Weekend to You, Mr. Harper

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 15:13
The Times Colonist got the Labour Day weekend off to an early start with two op-eds this morning.  Both of them concerned our prime minister, Stephen J. Harper.

Mike Robinson provided a piece exploring Harper's performance as Canada's CEO.  Robinson, who has spent 28-years as CEO of various science and cultural NGOs, concludes that Harper's executive tenure has been a flop.

...in Canada, say the last eight years, corporate dominance has so overshadowed our federal political scene that many question the independence of thought in the Conservative party, and especially the Prime Minister’s Office.On economic policy and foreign affairs files, Canada now speaks increasingly with the voice of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers — the industry’s lobby group — and seems to draw its economic policy from the Fraser Institute, both western organizations with great empathy for profit, small government and tax breaks for corporations....What becomes problematic is advancing these causes as the primary purpose of democratic government in a civil society. A majority government, even a plurality majority, has the duty to govern in the best interests of all the citizens and to promote the public good.These duties require leadership that is comfortable with nuances, that listens and reflects, and has a searching eye for the middle ground. It is not well served by a leader in the thrall of dogmatism, who bases decisions on how they will serve his corporate base. To paraphrase former prime minister Jean Chrétien, Canada’s PM cannot be headwaiter to the oil patch.Robinson goes on to evaluate Harper on several CEO criteria before concluding:LOverall, our CEO PM has never looked comfortable in the position. If the economy stays flat and the pipelines fizzle; if the PM stays out of the gym; if more stupid mistakes occur; if the vision remains more of the same — this CEO is cruising towards a deserved involuntary dismissal.Next up is a tale of triumphalism misplaced by our prime ministerial Chicken Hawk by Charlotte Gray, author of nine, non-fiction best sellers and former chairwoman of Canada's History Society.  Without mentioning Harper by name, Gray excoriates those who want to "celebrate" Canada's role in WWI.Am I the only person feeling increasingly uncomfortable in the tidal wave of articles, ceremonies, television programs and speeches triggered by the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War?Obviously there is a lot to remember. The extraordinary myopia of kings, emperors and prime ministers who let their countries roll inexorably toward conflict. The helplessness of those caught up in events beyond their control — both the troops and the families they left behind. The terrifying new weapons that ensured that this war would be slaughter on an industrial scale, rather than a limited engagement between professional armies.And most of all, the bravery of those young men who endured the nightmare of mud, poison gas, rats, disease, hunger, lice, cold, fear and homesickness in the trenches.Gray writes that there was precious little to celebrate in the outcome of WWI.As early as October 1914, Maclean’s magazine called the bloody conflict in Europe “the Great War.” But it wasn’t a great war, let alone “the war to end all wars,” as British writer H.G. Wells suggested. It was a failed war. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles was supposed to ensure that the major European powers would never go to war again.In fact, the Versailles Treaty turned out to be the peace to end all peace. Within 20 years of the treaty being signed, brutal conflict had erupted again in Europe.The boundaries that the victorious powers slapped onto their maps of the Middle East reflected their own self-interest, rather than the religious and ethnic realities on the ground. The current turmoil in the Arab world can be traced back, in part, to decisions taken in the Hall of Mirrors and subsequent diplomatic get-togethers.The second reason for my increasing unease is a disturbing thread in some of the First World War commemorations. Military battles are being presented to Canadians as significant moments in our coming of age as a country.But you only have to read about the 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge (see historian Tim Cook’s wonderful Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War 1917-1918) to know that this coming of age was the result of poor military planning by British generals, and involved hundreds of needless deaths.Among those Canadians who returned, there was an undercurrent of resentment that they had been embroiled in a British imperial crusade.This is a funny place to start the national mythology.How much is our past being manipulated for nationalist reasons? Many of the citizens in today’s multicultural Canada have their roots in countries that were either defeated in 1918 or played no part in the conflict. What should the killing fields of Europe mean to them?Gray has little time for people like Harper who appropriate to themselves the sacrifice made by so many and sully that sacrifice by transforming it into mythical narratives to suit their own purposes.So, happy Labour Day weekend to you, Mr. Harper, and thank you, Times Colonist, for giving us so much to mull over this holiday.

America the Beautiful: Deluxe Ferguson Edition

Dawg's Blawg - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 10:18
Nothing, repeat, nothing, has been resolved in Ferguson—or in the America for which Ferguson stands as icon. A grand jury, of three Blacks and nine whites, is presently deciding whether the cop who gunned down unarmed teenager Michael Brown... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

With Climate Change Sometimes There are Winners and Losers.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 09:12


Washington State has a water problem.  It's a warm water problem.  A report in The Seattle Times says warmer Pacific waters off Washington are diverting salmon runs to Canada.

Unusually warm water off the Washington coast is sending the vast majority of the sockeye-salmon run to Canadian waters, leaving Puget Sound fishermen with nearly empty nets.
According to data from the Pacific Salmon Commission, nearly 2.9 million sockeye have been caught in Canadian waters, while only about 98,000 have been netted in Washington through Aug. 19.That means 99 percent of sockeye have gone through the Johnstone Strait around the northern part of Vancouver Island into Canadian waters.During a typical sockeye-salmon run, about 50 percent of the run goes around the south end of Vancouver Island through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, putting them in U.S. waters, The Bellingham Herald reported.This year's Fraser River run has been spectacular for B.C. commercial and sports fisherman.

Oh, Crap! Sorry, I Meant the Ukraine.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 08:47


Vlad Putin, it seems, has a response to the hectoring recently from the likes of Sideshow Steve Harper and John Baird and others - "meet me in the Arctic."

The Guardian reports that Putin has had enough of Western criticism of Russian involvement in the Ukraine whose government he likens to Nazis.

Hours after Barack Obama accused Russia of sending troops into Ukraine and fuelling and upsurge in the separatist war, Putin retorted that the Ukrainian army was the villain of peace, targeting residential areas of towns and cities like German troops did in the former Soviet Union.

...And he made a pointed reference to the Arctic, which with its bounteous energy reserves and thawing waterways is emerging as a new potential conflict between Russia and its western rivals.  "Our interests are concentrated in the Arctic.  And of course we should pay moire attention to issues of development of the Arctic and the strengthening of our position," Putin told a youth camp outside Moscow.

Ukraine's prime minister, Arseny Yetseniuk, meanwhile says he'll try to bring Ukraine into NATO.  Oh no you won't, Arseny.  The "run to NATO" gambit was already tried by Georgia and it failed.  We're not going to fight your war.  Obama has already said America won't be going to war with Russia over Ukraine. Harper/Baird, both classic chicken hawks, love to talk tough but have so defunded Canada's armed forces that we won't be much help beyond hot air.  Besides, we just got put on notice that our problems with Putin aren't in Ukraine.  They're in our own backyard, the Arctic.

How the Right-Wing Media Machine Slimed Michael Brown

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 08:12
Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Matt Drudge, Ann Coulter - not an ounce, not one ounce of integrity among them.

In the wake of the execution of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, America's right-wing slime machine struggled to get control of the story.

It's hard to know whether it came from Drudge's brain or Hannity's ass or Coulter's mouth - who can tell them apart - but a couple of weeks after the shooting they came up with another story, this one in which the young black man viciously attacked the cop and tried to get the officer's gun.

This was proven, Fox News reported with an unnamed source, because “the officer had sustained a fractured eye socket in the incident.” Ann Coulter even suggested, incorrectly,that she’d seen X-rays of the fracture. Fox went on to claim “solid proof” of a battle between Wilson and Brown for the officer’s handgun.
It was not long, of course, before CNN and others disproved such bogus claims. But how did such fiction make it all the way to an outlet as major, if intellectually challenged, as Fox News?It was obviously a total fabrication.  Had anything remotely like a struggle, much less a vicious attack on an officer, occurred that would have been the first thing out of the Ferguson police department chief's mouth at his initial press conferences.

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 07:44
Assorted content to end your week.

- Ralph Surette suggests that Nova Scotia's tax and regulatory review pay close attention to the fact that it can do more than simply slash both:
Nova Scotia already has relatively low corporate taxes and lower than average taxes for the highest earners. Yet none of this can seem to get into the conversation that has us as high-tax, anti-business and anti-everything. I invite the review committee to pin down where we actually stand on the comparative tax scale.

I also invite it to take note of what's going on next door. New Brunswick Liberal Leader Brian Gallant, who's 25 per cent ahead of the governing Conservatives in the polls as the election campaign opens, has vowed to create a new tax bracket for those making over $150,000 and to rescind a 2012 cut of the business property tax, raising $63 million a year in all.

What's more, the New Brunswick Business Council supports him -- president Susan Holt having stated that, with regard to the property tax cut, business didn't ask for it and the province would have been better off putting the money on its deficit.

Indeed, if not in Nova Scotia, here, there and elsewhere you find business-people acknowledging that governments have to pay their bills and it can't all be done by cutting. - Meanwhile, Alessandro Demaio comments on the growth of economic and social inequality in Australia. David Dayen points out that tax giveaways to private corporations tend to be an utter waste of public resources. And Paul Krugman highlights the need for a far stronger European challenge to austerity and other right-wing policies which are failing miserably even on their own terms.

- Andrea Rexer notes that there are glaring unanswered questions about the CETA which by design won't be dealt with until it's too late (and then only in an unaccountable special commission). 

- Gregory Beatty talks to Charles Smith and Andrew Stevens about the state of labour. And even Tasha Kheiriddin discusses the increasing importance of the labour movement in federal politics - though of course she can't do so without prominently featuring plenty of easily-debunked anti-worker propaganda.

- Finally, Clare Demerse makes the case for a national clean energy strategy to both boost our economy and protect Canada's environment:
While Canada’s fossil fuel and large hydro resources are not evenly distributed, all of Canada’s jurisdictions have opportunities to develop clean technologies like wind and solar power. As highlighted by the National Roundtable on Environment and the Economy in its 2012 report, Framing the Future, Canada’s low-carbon strengths and opportunities truly run from coast to coast to coast.

But to seize these opportunities in a coherent and coordinated way, we need a national vision and strategy.
...
The Canadian energy strategy should become the home for clean energy initiatives that premiers work together to deliver—ideally with more partnership from Ottawa. Here are three areas that would make a difference for tackling climate change and speeding up the deployment of clean energy in Canada:
  • New investment in transmission lines and smart grids to supply clean energy across Canada, and allow for increased clean power exports to the United States 
  • Stronger policies, and incentives, along with infrastructure investment, to spur the use of electric vehicles in Canada, and 
  • A more coherent approach to pricing carbon pollution. Some provinces are already among North America’s leaders in carbon pricing, while others are still thinking about how to start charging for pollution. With Ottawa missing in action on carbon pricing, provincial coordination is currently our best shot at laying the foundation for a national approach to making polluters pay.

Floods Come and Go But Drought Likes to Climb Onto Your Back and Stay There

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 07:21


We hear lots about California and it's three-year-running drought that has left the State in severe water stress.  Wells are running dry, emergency bottled water has to be brought in to help the poor survive, orchards are being bulldozed as the trees die off, Nestle keeps plundering the state to bottle water for other places, municipalities are finally preparing to recycle waste water, etc., etc.

The "exceptional" drought zone is spreading ever northward, nearing the Oregon border.  Officials from Humboldt County say the Eel River levels are at unprecedented lows and people along the coast are not ready for what's coming.

Coastal areas of Humboldt County have not see the impacts of the drought as directly as inland portions, leading many residents to be unaware of the critical situation, said Dan Ehresman, director of the North Coast Environmental Center."People are disconnected from where our water comes from," Ehresman said. "It is easy not to think about the conditions in the rest of the county."In the wine country, growers have cut back on drip irrigation but still hope their vines will make it through the summer.  It's next year that's on their mind.  They need relief in the form of rainfall over the winter.

Bad as a 3-year drought may be, a report from Cornell University, the University of Arizona and the U.S. Geological Survey concludes that America's southwest is at risk of a 10-year drought this century.

The researchers found that when accounting for climate change, there is a 20-50 percent chance of a 35-year long megadrought in the next century, depending on the region. There is a 5-10 percent chance of a 50-year megadrought, they reported.The computer models also found that California, Arizona and New Mexico will be at increased risk for drought, but that the risk could decrease for parts of Washington, Montana and Idaho.Apparel companies are looking for alternatives to replace cotton.VF Corp. (NYSE:VFC), which makes Lee and Wrangler jeans, Timberland shoes and The North Face fleece jackets, said it started looking to diversify its raw materials several years ago, after bad weather events in China and Pakistan -- two of the world’s largest cotton growers -- hit the company’s cotton supply. While the crop grows especially well in hot climates, it is extremely sensitive to water. Not enough H20, and cotton chokes at the vine; too much, and its roots rot.In the coming decades, water scarcity spurred by climate change will likely hit cotton the most in China's Xinjian county, Pakistan, Australia and the western United States, according to the International Trade Center, a joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. Extreme heat waves could also harm cotton crops, as will an abundance of insects, which are expected to adapt and thrive in new environmental conditions.It's hard to imagine how a modern society like the American southwest could endure a 10-year drought.  A 35 or a 50-year drought would likely render the area uninhabitable.







World's Largest Private Bank, UBS, Says Fossil Energy is Toast

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 07:17


The Swiss banking giant, UBS, says renewable energy is the hands down winner and conventional power generation is finished.

In a briefing paper sent to clients and investors this week, the Zurich-based UBS bank argues that large-scale centralized power stations will soon become extinct because they are too big and inflexible and are "not relevant" for future electricity generation.  Instead the authors expect it to be cheAper and more efficient for households and businesses to generate their own energy to power their cars and to store any surplus energy in their own buildings even without subsidies.

"Solar is at the edge of being a competitive power generation technology.  The biggest drawback has been its intermittency.  This is where batteries and electric vehicles (EVs) come into play.  Battery costs have declined rapidly, and we expect a further decline of more than 50% by 2020. By then a mass [produced] electric vehicle will have almost the same price as a combustion engine car.  But it will save up to 2,000 euros a year on fuel cost, hence, it will begin to pay off almost immediately without any meaningful upfront "investment." This is why we expect a rapidly growing penetration with EVs, in particular in countries with high fossil fuel prices.

The expected 50% reduction in the cost of batteries by 2020 will not just spur electric car sales, but could also lead to exponential growth in demand for stationary batteries to store excess power in buildings, says UBS. "Battery storage should become financially attractive for family homes when combined with a solar system and an electric vehicle.  As a consequence, we expect transformational changes in the utility and auto sectors.  By 2020 investing in a home solar system with a 20-year life span, plus some small-scale home battery technology and an electric car, will pay for itself in six to eight years for the average consumer in Germany, Italy, Spain and much of the rest of Europe."

Australia is already going through something like this.  There, widespread adoption of rooftop solar power systems in residential and commercial properties, is savaging the bottom line of conventional power utilities.   With fossil fuel prices rising and solar costs dropping rapidly along with price breakthroughs in battery technology, the writing could be on the wall especially for high cost/high carbon fossil fuels.  Sorry, Athabasca, but you really should have seen this coming.

Performance Art - High Voltage

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 07:17
Photographer Patrick Hall reveals human emotion at 300,000 volts

What Do They Do Now?

Northern Reflections - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 06:05

                                                               http://www.pinterest.com/

Justin Trudeau said recently that the biggest threat to global security is "the kind of violence and misunderstandings and wars that come out of resource depletion—concerns of lack of hope for generations growing up in a world that is getting smaller and seemingly less and less fair.”

Alberta MP Michelle Rempel took to her Facebook page, writing that Trudeau's statement sent her into a "blind-rage." Justin has that effect on Harperites. Paul Wells writes that there are at least a couple of reasons for that. First, as one Tory said in an email,


That is because most Tory MPs come from very practical, real-world career backgrounds in small business (Joe Preston), policing (Rick Norlock), or farming (Gerry Ritz), to name a few. Others have track records of governing (John Baird) or legislating (Jason Kenney). They have painstakingly built their reputations and livelihoods over decades of work.”
Which is curious. Trudeau the Younger holds two Bachelors degrees -- in literature and education. It's true he lacks "real world" experience. Stephen Harper also holds two degrees -- in economics. But his only "real" job  was working in the mail room for Imperial Oil. Blind is the operative word.

The second -- and the real reason -- for Conservative rage is Trudeau's name. Harperites still rage at Trudeau the Elder. Two days after Justin delivered the eulogy at his father's funeral, the future prime minister published an op-ed in The National Post:

Harper wrote that he had passed the elder Trudeau in the street a year earlier and been struck by “a tired out, little old man” who had once “provoked both the loves and hatreds of my political passion.” The loves came first for Harper, he wrote, the hatreds as he matured. He called Trudeau “a distant leader who neither understood, nor cared to understand, a group of people over whom his actions had immense impact,” a man who “flail[ed] from one pet policy objective to another,” whose government “created huge deficits, a mammoth national debt, high taxes, bloated bureaucracy, rising unemployment, record inflation, curtailed trade and declining competitiveness.”
The op-ed always said more about Harper than it did about Trudeau. In fact, with a couple of exceptions, it's a pretty good description of Harper. But, most of all, the piece revealed that Stephen Harper was -- and is -- a thoroughly nasty piece of work.

Conservatives have done everything they can to bury PierreTrudeau. Petro Canada is a now a private corporation and they have consistently refused to recognize the Charter of Rights and  Freedoms -- in both history and in legislation. Still, the Son has risen to haunt their dreams.

What do they do now?


A Documentary Recommendation: Blackfish

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 05:57
Once again, I am writing a post that, in one sense, has nothing to do with politics but in another sense has everything to do with it and much more. If we consider political systems simply a methodology by which we engage with the our fellow human beings and the larger world, then the film I am about to recommend is a very political one.

As I have indicated in past posts, I have a real appetite for well-made documentaries. Blackfish falls into that category.

Balckfish explores the world of orcas, also known as killer whales. In fact, they are part of the dolphin family and like dolphins, they are sentient, very intelligent self-aware animals that have suffered tremendously at the hands of another animal, the human being. The film focuses on the terrible suffering, sometimes to the point of psychosis, that orcas experience in captivity. Seaworld in Orlando comes in for particular scrutiny, as does one particular captive performer, Tilikum, responsible for the deaths of three people. And yet Tilikum, as you will see, is hardly the villain of the piece.

I must confess that I watched the film in stages. Disturbing and moving, especially in scenes showing the capture of orcas in the wild and the responses of their families nearby watching and keening helplessly while their babies are taken, it is at times emotionally overpowering as we are yet again made witness to the kind of human folly that has made this world such a precarious place for all life today.

Balckfish is available on Netflix, or you can watch it below:


Blackfish Find out what really happens at... by NovaCottonRecommend this Post

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