Agrégateur de flux

When the Pentagon Claims that Bombing a Hospital is Not a War Crime

Montreal Simon - il y a 2 heures 4 min


On the night of October 3, 2015 A U.S. AC-130 gunship attacked a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz, run by the humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders.

And despite frantic calls from MSF doctors kept up its attack for half an hour.

Forty two staff members and patients were killed, many of them burned to death in their beds.

But today the Pentagon released a report claiming that murderous assault was not a war crime. 
Read more »

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - il y a 2 heures 10 min
Radical Face - Welcome Home

The World's First "Buy Before You Fly" Warplane Explained

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 5 heures 27 min

It's customary when a country buys an ultra-expensive bit of aerial kit to get all the contenders for the contract to bring their warplanes to one place for a competitive fly-off. They go head to head in exercises to determine just how well they perform and hold up in a full range of mission scenarios - air defence, air superiority, tactical strike, ground support, precision bombing, patrol, the whole deal. Each contender is graded on each category. Points are also given for the reliability of the aircraft, how much time it takes to turn it around, how many missions it manages to fly each day over the length of the exercise.

The world's costliest and most controversial light bomber is the only warplane that doesn't "do" competitive fly-offs. That's because it does a few things somewhat better than the others but far more things considerably worse.

Just getting airborne is one of those things that the F-35 doesn't do terribly well. At a recent mock deployment of six of the Lightning II warplanes at Mountain Home AFB in Idaho only one was able to boot up its software on a readiness exercise. One out of six was able to answer the bell. That's 600-million dollars (USD) of warplanes to get just one F-35 into the air.

“The Air Force attempted two alert launch procedures during the Mountain Home deployment, where multiple F-35A aircraft were preflighted and prepared for a rapid launch, but only one of the six aircraft was able to complete the alert launch sequence and successfully takeoff,” Gilmore wrote. “Problems during startup that required system or aircraft shutdowns and restarts – a symptom of immature systems and software–prevented the other alert launches from being completed.”
Perhaps more troublesome for the F-35 program, overall, is the fact that software stability seems to be getting worse. U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs loaded with an earlier version of the software are reportedly the most stable, enjoying up to eight hours between “software stability events,” military lingo for glitches in one of the aircraft’s computer programs. The Marine Corps has already declared its F-35s combat ready, though Gilmore acknowledged that in real-world combat the F-35B would require assistance acquiring targets and avoiding threats.
So, if the Americans can't get the damned things to work at home, what are the chances they'll allow the F-35 to be put to the test abroad for "small order" customers such as Canada? There are some things you just don't do in public. Testing the F-35 is one.
But these are glitches and, of course, the manufacturer and the US military have for years been assuring everyone that they'll all be sorted out in due course only they've been saying this for years and still, today, here we are with more of the same old, same old.
And let's remember, the F-35 is getting old. Its design is closing in on 20-years. The programme itself began in 1994. The Lockheed prototype was selected for production in 2001. Even today there's no expectation that flight testing will be completed before 2019.
Meanwhile the adversaries that the F-35 could conceivably be needed to attack have looked at America's 20-year old idea and figured out ways to counter it, including with stealth warplanes of their own design.
John Ivison may still sing the praises of the F-35 but, then again, he writes for the National Post which means his credibility is genetically impaired.

Trudeau's Betrayal

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 8 heures 1 min

To Murray Dobbin, Justin Trudeau is looking more and more like Stephen Harper with each passing month. C-51, BDS, the TPP and so much more. But it's the venal Saudi arms deal, to Dobbin, is the icing on Trudeau's cake:

...the stunningly stupid decision to go ahead with a $15-billion sale of light-armoured vehicles (LAVs) to Saudi Arabia has the potential to expose Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a phony.

You could hardly design an issue so perfectly fitted to reveal a government with a progressive public face contradicted by a ruthless disregard for human rights. It raises the question of whether the spin doctors simply misjudged the extent of public revulsion or whether there is something deeper going on. Is it really just about jobs or is there a hard-nosed commitment, inherited from the Conservatives, to a backward Middle East foreign policy?

Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion has been severely damaged by his performance on the Saudi arms sale file. First he said the government couldn't get out of the contract, claiming it was legally committed by the Conservative government's actions. That was not true.

Dion compounded his credibility problem with another misleading claim that he was following Canadian law in signing the export permits.

After a Globe and Mail editorial accused him of hypocrisy for approving the sale, Dion attacked the newspaper, claiming that "the Foreign Affairs Minister may block the exports permits at any time if there were serious evidence of misuse of the military equipment." That is, presumably, after our LAV's have been used to attack civilians.

According to Belkis Wille, Yemen researcher for Human Rights Watch, "The Saudis have used such vehicles to violently suppress peaceful protests in eastern Saudi Arabia in 2011 and 2012."

Is there a "reasonable risk" that it will do so again? Everything we know about the new and far more aggressive regime in Riyadh today says yes. In January the regime executed 47 prisoners (most by beheading) on a single day. The regime executed 151 in 2015 -- the most in 20 years.

The Saudi government described those on Jan. 2 executed as "terrorists," but the law defining terrorism includes anyone who demands reform, exposes corruption or otherwise engages in dissent or violence against the government. We don't know how many were executed for acts of violence and how many for "dissent."
And, Dobbin notes, Trudeau has shown himself faithfully Harperian when it comes to Israel:
Trudeau supported a Conservative resolution that would have the government "condemn" any advocacy for the BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) campaign for Palestinian rights. He also opposes the European Union's new initiative that require products from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories to be clearly labeled. And there seems to be little if any movement on Trudeau's commitment to re-engage with Iran.

In short, so far, Trudeau's Mideast policy looks disturbingly like Harper's.

It is the same and again we're reminded that the son is not the equal of the father, not remotely. He seems to more closely resemble the guy we just threw out.

Wow. Greenland's Summer Melt Starts a Month Early - With a Bang !!

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 8 heures 39 min
Imagine a cubic kilometre of ice water. That's a gigatonne, one billion metric tonnes of water. Here's the kicker - in a single day. It happened on the Greenland ice sheet this month. See the blue spike below? Scientists couldn't believe it was true - until they checked.




"Everything is melting", said Aqqaluk Petersen, a resident of Nuuk, Greenland's capital.

The heatwave, Greenland style, added to other evidence that the top of the world continues to warm about twice as fast as the rest of the planet.

"Greenland is really the big show when it comes to ice melt," said Matt King, Professor of Polar Geodesy and an ARC Future Fellow at the University of Tasmania. "It's probably losing as much ice as all the small glaciers around the world combined, and probably more than Antarctica.

"Greenland is being eaten away from away from above and from the edges."

Arctic air temperatures have risen about two degrees since the 1960s. Ocean temperatures are also warming, thawing Greenland glaciers in contact with surrounding seas.

Since satellite records date only from the 1970s, some natural fluctuations may be in play, he said. Still, Greenland's early April warmth was consistent with other signals of a warming planet.

"Such a big spike in melting so early is in complete agreement with what you'd expect when we heat the atmosphere so much," Professor King said, referring to the impact from humans burning fossil fuels and releasing other greenhouse gases.


Trump Attracts Some Very Ugly Supporters

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 8 heures 57 min

She came to America with her parents 26-years ago to escape from anti-semitism in Russia. Since then Julia Ioffe has established herself as a journalist writing for the New York Times Magazine, Foreign Policy, The New Republic and other news outlets.

However a recent profile of the next former Mrs. Donald J. Trump, Melania, Ioffe wrote for GQ, has earned her a barrage of anti-semitic hate mail from Trump supporters.

Here are a couple of photos she's received:

The sender of this one advised her to swallow her diamonds.


The next one came with the message, "they know about you."


Someone reaches her by phone playing Hitler speeches. Last night she got a call from a business, Aftermath Services, enquiring about "homicide clean up" she had ordered.

Dear Ms. McKenna, Don't Be Shy, Spread the Word

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 9 heures 38 min
Canadian EnviroMin, Catherine McKenna, is onto something. She says the key to dealing with climate change impacts on the Arctic is to have "real conversations" with the Innu who inhabit the area.

Hmm - real adult conversations - what a fabulous idea!! Kudos to you, Catherine McKenna. Bring it up next time Justin Trudeau gathers all those men and women - you know, the cabinet - and tell them they should try doing the same thing, having adult conversations with all Canadians about what is and is going to be affecting their lives and their children's lives. And, remember, the "adult" part means no lying. Sure it's going to be hard but you have to tell the truth.

Or did I get that wrong? Are "real conversations" only for the Inuit? Do the rest of us have to keep making do with an endless stream of bullcrap from Ottawa?

McKenna's "real conversations" teaser paled compared to her counterpart, US interior secretary, Sally Jewell's more pointed assessment that climate change spreading through the Arctic cannot be stopped and countries with northern populations will have to prepare for "climate refugees."

Really? Well, who knew? Oh, everybody - okay.

Do you ever get the sense that, while Harper just denied everything or acted as though challenges such as climate change were irrelevant, this Trudeau government prefers to play dumb, naive and then, eventually, surprised by oh so determined to act - maybe, somehow, at some point. It's kinda hard to miss that hazmat pipelines are a bigger priority than climate change with the government of the day, just like the government of days past. On that one, Ms. McKenna has already played the "national  unity" card to get herself and Mr. Trudeau off the hook.

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - il y a 11 heures 44 min
Assorted content to end your week.

- Michael Klare writes about the future direction of the oil industry - which looks to involve cashing out quickly than building anything lasting:
At the beginning of this century, many energy analysts were convinced that we were at the edge of the arrival of “peak oil”; a peak, that is, in the output of petroleum in which planetary reserves would be exhausted long before the demand for oil disappeared, triggering a global economic crisis. As a result of advances in drilling technology, however, the supply of oil has continued to grow, while demand has unexpectedly begun to stall.  This can be traced both to slowing economic growth globally and to an accelerating “green revolution” in which the planet will be transitioning to non-carbon fuel sources. With most nations now committed to measures aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases under the just-signed Paris climate accord, the demand for oil is likely to experience significant declines in the years ahead. In other words, global oil demand will peak long before supplies begin to run low, creating a monumental challenge for the oil-producing countries.

This is no theoretical construct.  It’s reality itself.  Net consumption of oil in the advanced industrialized nations has already dropped from 50 million barrels per day in 2005 to 45 million barrels in 2014. Further declines are in store as strict fuel efficiency standards for the production of new vehicles and other climate-related measures take effect, the price of solar and wind power continues to fall, and other alternative energy sources come on line. While the demand for oil does continue to rise in the developing world, even there it’s not climbing at rates previously taken for granted. With such countries also beginning to impose tougher constraints on carbon emissions, global consumption is expected to reach a peak and begin an inexorable decline.According to experts Thijs Van de Graaf and Aviel Verbruggen, overall world peak demand could be reached as early as 2020.

In such a world, high-cost oil producers will be driven out of the market and the advantage — such as it is — will lie with the lowest-cost ones. Countries that depend on petroleum exports for a large share of their revenues will come under increasing pressure to move away from excessive reliance on oil. - Meanwhile, Murray Dobbin discusses how the Libs are helping Saudi Arabia to continue and expand its human rights abuses. The CP notes that they're also following in the Cons' footsteps in limiting workers' ability to refuse unsafe work. And Alison calls attention to the farce that is the Libs' excuse for public consultation on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

- Patrick Cain reports on the plummeting number of tax evasion prosecutions in Canada. (And it's worth noting that the starting point hardly represented an obvious deterrent to begin with.)

- Brian Hutchinson points out the odour of corruption emanating from Christy Clark's donor-funded income. And Sarah Mills highlights Brad Wall's similar payments for service.

- Finally, David Walters offers a look at the options and choices facing families at several points on the income spectrum - though it's worth pointing out that the people included in article skew far higher than the U.S.' actual income distribution.

Four Days In A Wild Weather Week

Politics and its Discontents - il y a 12 heures 13 min
I admit I am a bit of a weather geek. To witness nature's fury and our powerlessness in its face is truly humbling. However, the other reason for my fascination with our increasingly volatile and destructive weather is the rueful recognition of our collective refusal to make any changes that might mitigate the worst effects of climate change. If given the option of sacrifice (losing some convenience, changing our lifestyle, taming our bloodlust for beef, paying higher prices for energy, etc.) or enduring the destructive force of climate change, it seems that for almost everyone, both leaders and the led, the choice is lamentably clear.

We get what we deserve:







Recommend this Post

Stephen Harper and the Secret Society

Montreal Simon - il y a 12 heures 52 min


Well no doubt Stephen Harper is waiting anxiously to see whether his lawyer's letter on the Duffy trial has convinced Canadians that he acted honourably.

And helped repair his soiled legacy.

But since we know he's doomed to disappointment.

I'd be fascinated to know what he might tell the members of his favourite secret society, when he pays them a visit this weekend.
Read more »

In Harperland, Stupidity Rules

Northern Reflections - il y a 12 heures 59 min
Perhaps stupidity is a virus. Despite the verdict in the Duffy trial, Michael Harris writes, stupidity still rules in a lot of roosts:

A significant part of the Canadian Establishment is not only blaming a victim — it’s blaming an exonerated victim. Some want even more punishment for a man the courts decided deserved no punishment at all.
Consider RCMP Assistant Commission Gilles Michaud who

actually wrote congratulatory letters to the investigators who worked on the Duffy case and helped come up with the 31 charges against him.

Never mind the fact that the Mounties never “got their man” on anything, not even jaywalking. In the wake of the court’s verdict, the RCMP decided it was “inappropriate to comment”.Small wonder. It’s hard to speak with a mouthful of crow, even if you’re the assistant commissioner who held the splashy press conference announcing all those bogus charges. Besides, it gets harder to congratulate the team for a 31-0 blowout when they’re on the doughnut-hole end of the score.
The there was the National Posts's Andrew Coyne:

When a judge issues a stunning rebuttal of a vicious and baseless criminal case that made salacious headlines at Duffy’s expense for years, it’s simply not normal to argue that ‘acquittal does not equal innocence’. That’s what Andrew Coyne wrote in the immediate aftermath of Justice Charles Vaillancourt’s decision. Some people have forgotten that, as an accused person, you answer only the charges as they are brought against you — not every aspersion cast against your character that comes along.
And also in the pages of the Post, there appeared an article by Richard Staley, Harper's lawyer, who claimed that Harper acted honourably:

As soon as the laughter dies down, I’d like to ask each and every reader to judge Staley’s claim based on what came out at Duffy’s trial — especially the part about the PMO’s “ruthless” behaviour.

Staley says he was instructed by Harper to cooperate with the RCMP and that doing so was politically inexpedient — which, he argues, offers some sort of evidence of good faith.

He talks about it as if Harper had a choice. He didn’t. If he hadn’t cooperated, it would have been seen immediately as a cover-up — and rightly so. Is Staley really suggesting that the former PM had the option of suppressing all the emails that put the lie to Harper’s claim that only Duffy and Nigel Wright were in on this deal? That it was somehow selfless of him to hand them over?

Besides, had Harper refused to cooperate, it could have led to him being subpoenaed. Everyone remembers how much he likes answering questions. Imagine the fun he would have had answering them under oath.

Staley also points out (correctly) that there is a constitutional principle that prosecutorial decisions must be free of partisan concerns. He forgets that Harper was the serving PM who congratulated the RCMP when they charged Duffy, through his spokesman Jason MacDonald. Harper was also the PM who directly involved the RCMP in the Helena Guergis affair when he had Ray Novak write on his behalf to the RCMP commissioner to pass on unfounded criminal allegations against her. (I might add that in the wake of her exoneration by the Mounties, she was kicked out of the Conservative caucus anyway. Harper rules.)
In Harperland, stupidity rules.

Image: chicagonow.com

The Travelling TPP Roadshow

Creekside - il y a 14 heures 3 min


Brian Innes, president of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA) and tireless retweeter of all things canola, suggests canola growers have a TPP friend in Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland because her dad is a canola grower. In a 2012 column in The Atlantic, she mentioned her dad's canola and wheat farm is "seven times the size of Central Park".

In his column in the Hill Times a couple of days ago :
Canada can’t miss the boat on the TPPAs Canadians continue to debate the deal, the rest of the world is not standing still , Innes notes the HoC Standing Committee on International Trade kicked off its cross-Canada pre-study public consultations with Canadians in Vancouver on April 18. Yes, it's a "full and open pre-study on the merits of TPP" after Canada signed TPP.  
Both Freeland and committee roadshow vice chair and Con MP Randy "Why the TPP is in Canada's best interest" Hoback have explained the TPP cannot be renegotiated - Canada's price of entry to the deal was foregoing the right to either veto or reopen any chapter that had already been concluded. 

So how's that TPP roadshow going?
I went. I saw. I cried for what counts as ‘public consultation’.

Only twelve witnesses were allowed to speak. They were allotted five minutes each. Five of the 12 witnesses represented industry associations and interests. There was only room for 60 members of the public.

By contrast, the Lobbying Commissioner of Canada records Innes' outfit CAFTA held 72 lobbying consultations with Freeland and other Liberal and Conservative MPs leading up to the TPP signing. Or as CAFTA tweeted as Freeland signed it : 
"CAFTA has been engaged throughout #TPP negotiations and had a voice at the table."

Literally at the table on Feb 3 in Aukland.


Meanwhile yesterday south of the border, origin country of what Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz called "the worst trade deal ever":

160+ Farm and Food Groups Ask Congress to Reject TPP, Stand Up for Independent Farmers and Ranchers 
The controversial trade deal will mostly benefit corporate interests.
"The companies — not farmers — capture any export benefits. These companies can use the trade deal to offshore their supply chains and ship farm and food products back to the United States, where the imports compete with products from American farmers."They are already doing that of course but would like their politicians to agree on some accompanying trade table manners for it. 

President Obama in the NYTimes yesterday
“It’s one of the reasons that I pursued the Trans-Pacific Partnership, not because I’m not aware of all the failures of some past trade agreements and the disruptions to our economy that occurred as a consequence of globalization, but rather my assessment that most trends are irreversible given the nature of global supply chains, and so we better be out there shaping the rules in ways that allow for higher labor standards overseas, or try to export our environmental standards overseas so that we have more of a level playing field.”Pretty sure that's not what the corps promoting this deal on either side of the border have in mind here.
.

Why Are We Still Building a Monument To Stephen Harper?

Montreal Simon - il y a 15 heures 9 min


Well it's going to be a lot smaller than Stephen Harper had hoped.

And it won't be erected right in front of the Supreme Court, on the ground reserved for a new federal court building widely expected to be named after Pierre Trudeau.

So Harper could moon both of them for eternity.

But the man who brutalized this country for so long will be getting his monument. 
Read more »

A Cautionary Tale - Oil's Days are Numbered

The Disaffected Lib - jeu, 04/28/2016 - 10:12

Sorry, Rachel. Sorry, Justin. Sorry, Brad. The heyday of high-cost, high-carbon oil is drawing to a close. Not your fault. You just happen to be stuck with the filthiest, costliest faux oil there is in a world market awash in cheap, lower-carbon oil.

There are plenty of places around the world where they just pump good old crude oil right out of the ground. They don't have to mine it. They don't have to boil it out of the ground. They don't have to "upgrade" it and mix it with light oil and heat it just to get it moving through special pipelines.

The Saudis have loads of that good crude oil, "sweet oil." Yet they know that oil's days are numbered, even for their stuff. It pains me to suggest that we might learn a thing or two from a group as odious, even barbaric as the Saudis but, hey, they might just be the canary for our bitumen mines.

The Saudis peered into the future and what they saw convinced them there was no time to waste, they had to break their dependence on oil revenues. They even used the word "addiction." And so they've set a target of 2030 to be independent of oil revenues. That means a transition to a post-oil economy and in an almost breathtakingly short time frame.

Meanwhile, Michael Klare suggests we've hit a form of "peak oil" - on the demand side, not supply. Just as all this unconventional energy from fracking fields, bitumen mines and seabed wells is flooding the markets, demand is stagnating. That, in turn, leaves those who are blessed with fields of low-carbon, low cost conventional oil with the market whip hand.

Klare contends that the recent OPEC summit in Doha shows that the days when western producers could count on Middle East oil solidarity to prop up prices are over.

It is hard to overstate the significance of the Doha debacle. At the very least, it will perpetuate the low oil prices that have plagued the industry for the past two years, forcing smaller firms into bankruptcy and erasing hundreds of billions of dollars of investments in new production capacity. It may also have obliterated any future prospects for cooperation between OPEC and non-OPEC producers in regulating the market. Most of all, however, it demonstrated that the petroleum-fueled world we’ve known these last decades -- with oil demand always thrusting ahead of supply, ensuring steady profits for all major producers -- is no more. Replacing it is an anemic, possibly even declining, demand for oil that is likely to force suppliers to fight one another for ever-diminishing market shares.
On the structural side, global demand for energy had, in recent years, ceased to rise quickly enough to soak up all the crude oil pouring onto the market, thanks in part to new supplies from Iraq and especially from the expanding shale fields of the United States. This oversupply triggered the initial 2014 price drop when Brent crude -- the international benchmark blend -- went from a high of $115 on June 19th to $77 on November 26th, the day before a fateful OPEC meeting in Vienna. The next day, OPEC members, led by Saudi Arabia, failed to agree on either production cuts or a freeze, and the price of oil went into freefall.

The failure of that November meeting has been widely attributed to the Saudis’ desire to kill off new output elsewhere -- especially shale production in the United States -- and to restore their historic dominance of the global oil market. Many analysts were also convinced that Riyadh was seeking to punish regional rivals Iran and Russia for their support of the Assad regime in Syria (which the Saudis seek to topple).

The rejection, in other words, was meant to fulfill two tasks at the same time: blunt or wipe out the challenge posed by North American shale producers and undermine two economically shaky energy powers that opposed Saudi goals in the Middle East by depriving them of much needed oil revenues. Because Saudi Arabia could produce oil so much more cheaply than other countries -- for as little as $3 per barrel -- and because it could draw upon hundreds of billions of dollars in sovereign wealth funds to meet any budget shortfalls of its own, its leaders believed it more capable of weathering any price downturn than its rivals. Today, however, that rosy prediction is looking grimmer as the Saudi royals begin to feel the pinch of low oil prices, and find themselves cutting back on the benefits they had been passing on to an ever-growing, potentially restive population while still financing a costly, inconclusive, and increasingly disastrous war in Yemen.


...Until very recently, it was assumed that the demand for oil would continue to expand indefinitely, creating space for multiple producers to enter the market, and for ones already in it to increase their output. Even when supply outran demand and drove prices down, as has periodically occurred, producers could always take solace in the knowledge that, as in the past, demand would eventually rebound, jacking prices up again. Under such circumstances and at such a moment, it was just good sense for individual producers to cooperate in lowering output, knowing that everyone would benefit sooner or later from the inevitable price increase.

But what happens if confidence in the eventual resurgence of demand begins to wither? Then the incentives to cooperate begin to evaporate, too, and it’s every producer for itself in a mad scramble to protect market share. This new reality -- a world in which “peak oil demand,” rather than “peak oil,” will shape the consciousness of major players -- is what the Doha catastrophe foreshadowed.

At the beginning of this century, many energy analysts were convinced that we were at the edge of the arrival of “peak oil”; a peak, that is, in the output of petroleum in which planetary reserves would be exhausted long before the demand for oil disappeared, triggering a global economic crisis. As a result of advances in drilling technology, however, the supply of oil has continued to grow, while demand has unexpectedly begun to stall. This can be traced both to slowing economic growth globally and to an accelerating “green revolution” in which the planet will be transitioning to non-carbon fuel sources. With most nations now committed to measures aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases under the just-signed Paris climate accord, the demand for oil is likely to experience significant declines in the years ahead. In other words, global oil demand will peak long before supplies begin to run low, creating a monumental challenge for the oil-producing countries.

This is no theoretical construct. It’s reality itself. Net consumption of oil in the advanced industrialized nations has already dropped from 50 million barrels per day in 2005 to 45 million barrels in 2014. Further declines are in store as strict fuel efficiency standards for the production of new vehicles and other climate-related measures take effect, the price of solar and wind power continues to fall, and other alternative energy sources come on line. While the demand for oil does continue to rise in the developing world, even there it’s not climbing at rates previously taken for granted. With such countries also beginning to impose tougher constraints on carbon emissions, global consumption is expected to reach a peak and begin an inexorable decline. According to experts Thijs Van de Graaf and Aviel Verbruggen, overall world peak demand could be reached as early as 2020.

In such a world, high-cost oil producers will be driven out of the market and the advantage -- such as it is -- will lie with the lowest-cost ones. Countries that depend on petroleum exports for a large share of their revenues will come under increasing pressure to move away from excessive reliance on oil. This may have been another consideration in the Saudi decision at Doha. In the months leading up to the April meeting, senior Saudi officials dropped hints that they were beginning to plan for a post-petroleum era and that Deputy Crown Prince bin Salman would play a key role in overseeing the transition.

We know from prince Salman's announcements over the past week that Saudi Arabia has instituted a post-petroleum plan with ambitious target dates. The Saudis will continue to supply conventional crude that costs them just $3 per barrel to produce but woe betide high-cost, high-carbon heavy oil such as Athabasca bitumen.
When the Saudis, who can stay in the oil game far longer than we can ever hope to last, are moving to build a post-petroleum economy what conceivable argument is there for Canada constructing hazmat pipelines intended to stay in service 40-years or more? Are Canada's leaders, federal and provincial, so bereft of vision that they're incapable of imagining how we go ahead after the heavy machinery of Athabasca falls silent?

It Was Always Just a Matter of Time

The Disaffected Lib - jeu, 04/28/2016 - 08:12

Even Republicans are beginning to lose their taste for climate change denialism. According to Scientific American this is big news. Hardly.

The Achilles' Heel of climate change denialism is that it pits empty belief against scientific fact. Belief is a product of faith, not fact. It involves a willingness to believe something for the sake of believing. Scientific fact does not demand nor even invite belief. It is evidence based, verifiable. Challenge is welcomed as a means to advance knowledge.

Climate change denialism was never more than a sucker's bet. Science shows that the reality of climate change impacts are occurring and they're worsening. Even in the most latitudinally advantaged countries this manifests in severe weather events of increasing frequency, intensity, duration and destructiveness. It is irrefutable in both the change in global temperatures, ice loss and sea level rise and the rate of those changes. Denialism cannot stand against what must be felt and endured.

We are already living with the impacts of just 1C of warming above pre-industrial levels and warming is not only continuing but it's accelerating. We know that those impacts are not linear. Big changes happen abruptly more often than not and they tend to be irreversible. For example, there are parts of the world that are getting dangerously near "wet bulb 35." This marks a point of rise in both humidity and temperature at which the human body can no longer cool itself through perspiration and evaporation and death ensues.

Climate change denialism was never more than a carefully engineered delaying tactic. The fossil fuelers were well aware of global warming and the effects of greenhouse gas emissions for at least three decades and probably more. As far back as 1970, Imperial Oil knew that GHGs would have to be regulated. That's getting on to half a century ago. Big Fossil is only doing what Big Tobacco did, using the same techniques pioneered by RJ Reynolds and other cancer merchants.

So it shouldn't surprise anyone that increasing numbers of Republican voters and Republican legislators are abandoning climate change denial. The only surprise is that it took them so long.

Donald Trump Really Doesn't Get It

The Disaffected Lib - jeu, 04/28/2016 - 07:48

Donald Trump sees America as the selfless benefactor of the world.  In his worldview, America gives, everybody else takes.

The Big Orange Behemoth figures that, if he wins the White House, he'll change all that, balance the books with other countries, especially America's allies. Trump's policy has a name - "America First."

It sounds like a plan - until you turn your mind to some things Trump doesn't factor in. There's America's constantly growing foreign debt. Then there's America's perpetual balance of trade deficit. Then there's America's mortal reliance on the US dollar as the world's reserve currency. Put them all together and you've got a double edged sword that America can only wave around at its own peril.

Every month America buys more than it sells. It imports more than it exports. To do this it borrows money - from foreign lenders.  America can keep this going, year in and year out, because it buys and sells and borrows in greenbacks, the US dollar, which happens to be the world's reserve currency. So long as the rest of the world remains content that the US dollar should be the world's reserve currency, the country that prints those dollars and decides how many of them there should be can live beyond its means by recalibrating those means as and when it likes.

America's role in the world, the one that Trump thinks everyone else should pay for? That's a big part of why the world puts up with the USD as its reserve currency. If America starts bullying the rest of the world, pretending that it's a victim of this arrangement of convenience, it could encourage the discontents to demand a new reserve currency, perhaps one anchored in a basket of leading currencies - the dollar plus the yen plus the yuan plus the euro, all of them averaged out. The Saudis have already floated this idea. So too have the Chinese and the Russians mutter about it from time to time.

A reserve currency not slaved to the US dollar would be calamitous for the US and for world commerce generally but not uniformly. America would be hardest hit but countries with large holdings of American debt would also suffer from a plunge in the value of the greenback against other currencies.

Putting America back on a pay-as-you-go footing would be painful. A world no longer governed by America's monetary policy could be less predictable. But we're already embarked on an unpredictable mid and long-range future. Even the end of the fossil fuel era triggers great unpredictability. There has always been upheaval whenever the world has transitioned from one energy source to another whether it be sail, coal or oil. Climate change will be another, probably even greater than the energy transition. Resource shortages, especially freshwater, and other drivers such as overpopulation - all of these forces factor in to deny us much certainty for the future.

Maybe this is the worst possible time for America to be flirting with a bombast like Donald Trump.

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - jeu, 04/28/2016 - 06:30
Here, on the Conference Board of Canada's environmental report card - and the conclusions we should draw from both Saskatchewan's last-place finish, and the typically appalling response from the Wall government.

For further reading...
- Brendan Haley discusses the steps needed to reach a cleaner and more equitable economy - featuring a focus on transitioning how workers are able to use their existing skills and training rather than propping up dirty resource industries.
- Mike de Souza reports that the minimally-discussed Line 3 pipeline expansion has received NEB approval to expand export capacity to the U.S. And Justin Ling writes that the Parliamentary Budget Officer has concluded Canada is almost certain to miss every greenhouse gas emission target we've set - meaning that Canada's D grade in the Conference Board's report card isn't much to write home about.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - jeu, 04/28/2016 - 06:17
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Allan Woods looks into the pitiful responses to states of emergency declared by First Nations, as well as a decade and a half worth of neglect of cries for help from Pikangikum First Nation in particular. Kristy Kirkup reports on the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal's latest order requiring the federal government to stop dragging its heels in providing social services. And Kate Heartfield rightly argues that we need to treat Third World conditions on First Nations as matters of injustice which require correction - not merely a basis for charity.

- Meanwhile, Richard Wolff discusses the U.S.' example of racial disparity as an example of how discrimination and capitalism can feed off of each other.

- Heather Mallick looks at the development of pay-for-plasma schemes as the latest example of the commoditization of anything that can be exploited.

- Marco Chown Oved reports on the missing $40 billion which have been diverted offshore from Canada in the last year.

- Gary Mason reports that Christy Clark's big-money fund-raisers are translating directly into increased income for her due to a party top-up beyond her salary as premier, then rightly questions the ethics involved in that income stream.

- Finally, Donald Savoie summarizes what Canadians governments are doing well in their current form (which is unfortunately mostly limited to managing communications), and what they could do better by paying attention to the public services they're supposed to be delivering. 

The Incredible Shrinking Man

Northern Reflections - jeu, 04/28/2016 - 04:29


Stephen Harper has disappeared. And, Andrew Cohen writes, his legacy is disappearing as quickly as he did:

Stephen Harper was a failure in power. He created nothing lasting. Of prime ministers since 1945 who served a full term or more, his is the thinnest record.

Harper took on none of the big social issues – abortion, gay marriage, capital punishment – which animated his loyalists. He championed no constitutional reform and established few innovative programs. He proposed no new national initiatives – museums, pipelines, high-speed rail – or declared a projet de société.
When compared to his predecessors, Harper comes away looking pretty small:

John Diefenbaker passed the Bill of Rights. Lester Pearson created Medicare, the Auto Pact and the flag. Pierre Trudeau patriated the Constitution and entrenched the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Brian Mulroney brought free trade and a national sales tax. Jean Chrétien established the Clarity Act and reset national finances.

On criminal justice, the Supreme Court has struck down his laws on mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders and limited credit for pre-trial detention. His changes to the parole system and prostitution laws may be next. The Court Challenges Program dismantled by Harper has been restored.

The long-form census has been restored. Ministers and diplomats can talk again. The Anti-Terrorism Act and Fair Elections Act will be amended. There is new money for culture and aboriginals. Abroad, Canada has withdrawn from the bombing campaign against ISIL. We’re seeking the seat on the UN Security Council the Conservatives lost, and we may return to peacekeeping. We’ve taken a leading role in combating climate change in ways Harper disdained.
In the end, he will be remembered as a prime minister who truly didn't understand his country:

Stephen Harper misread the country. His instincts were dark and conservative in a decent, progressive country. When Canadians had a choice, they discarded him. Now they’re discarding his legacy.
He is the incredible shrinking man.

Image: limageriegallery.com

The Duffy Trial and Stephen Harper's Lawyer's Letter

Montreal Simon - jeu, 04/28/2016 - 04:18


When the judge at the Duffy trial delivered his verdict, and his scathing indictment of the Harper PMO, I couldn't help wondering what Stephen Harper must have been thinking.

And now we all know. He wasn't too happy. He must have been furious.

Or humiliated beyond recognition.

And had instructed his lawyer to write an open letter to Canadians.
Read more »

Pages

Subscribe to canadianprogressives.ca agrégateur