Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 26: Mr. Editorial Writer - ignorant? stupid? lying? All three?

It's a bizarre editorial even without the possibilities of ignorance, stupidity or lying. It's an editorial about all the advantages for us in the declining value of the Canadian dollar. Okay. That part is reasonable enough.

But the conclusion, without any attempt to connect it to the rest of the editorial, is that we need to develop shale gas. This - seriously - would get a failing grade as a high school paper.

It admits the "possibility" that climate change (with the disastrous effets we are seeing in Alberta) is the result of using fossil fuels to produce energy. Hurray. Most of the world's scientists have just won a nod from no less that an editorial writer of The Moncton Times and Transcript. I'll bet scientists all over the world are bustin' their buttons over that.

But, says the editorial writer, we have to continue using fossil fuels for generations because we have no other adequate means to produce energy.


He begins by admitting that the use of fossil fuels is destructive. Indeed, we have strong evidence that the damage to climate will be irreversible in the near future. And that will mean mass starvation, mass disease, and a general collapse of human society.

But, says the editor, we have to keep using fossil fuels for generations. You utter twit! If we continue to rely on fossil fuels, there won't be any people here  for many more generations.

Duh...gotta use more fossil fuels. You can't, Mr. editorial writer. Are you really so stupid you cannot understand that? It's not a matter of will or decision making or any of those controllable things. We are not humanly able to carry on using fossil fuels.

And we don't have any substitute source of energy? Well, that might have something to do with the fact that our Prime Minister has cancelled virtually all research into climate change, environmental protection, and energy. Obama has been just as slow.

And this slowness has been encouraged by massive investment from the oil industry to spread propaganda, especially through "think tanks" like our very own Atlantic Institute for Market Studies.

Greed makes the greedy stupid and short-sighted. And, living in New Brunswick, we've had the experience of watching this up close.

Then the editor tells us that natural gas is the cleanest of all fossil fuels. Again, it's hard to tell whether this is lying or stupidity. Natrual gas is the cleanest - but only very slightly; and not enough to make any difference. Indeed, it may be worse due to factors in extracting it. Even at that, it's slightly cleaner only if we ignore that fact that we have no safe way to dispose of its highly toxic waste.

I really don't know what to call this editorial - there's a case to be made for ignorant, for lying, for immoral, for sheer stupidity. Pick your own favourite.

The rest of the editorial and op ed pages is the usual. That's okay for Alec Bruce and, this time, for Brian Cormier. Norbert's column, if void of anything worth reading about, is at least better than it is when he has an opinion to express. Eric Lewis' "opinion" column consists of free ads for famous, local pop groups that nobody ever heard of.
Page 1 of News Today has an interesting story about the Alberta floods. University of Waterloo researchers working with the home insurance business warn that the flooding of Calgary was almost certainly the result of climate change, that we can expect much more of this in the future right across Canada - and the world - and that it will make home iinsurance impossible.

Insurance sompanies already knew that. That's why they usually don't insure against any flooding that goes beyond basement level. But now, even basement flooding is so common it has taken the lead over fire as the top insurance risk. So the insurance companies plan to get rid of all such business.

But,...duh...we need fossil fuels to provide energy for generations to come...duh.

 There is no condition more destructive than the supidity generated by greed and power.

The only other story in the paper that caught my attention is one of confrontation and damage at a seismic testing site. It's on page 2 of Section A. And that's surely strange. A story like this  for the TandT would normally be front page, with big pictures of the damage. I mean, what a wonderful chance to attack proresters as vicious terrorists! But they bury it as a small story on p. 2 - and with surprisingly little information in it.

They do have a typical TandT paragraph in there, though. It says most protests have been peaceful. BUT there have been 33 arrests made by police. Very cute. Here's a paragraph that links the protests with violence - nicely ignoring the fact that NONE of the arrests was for violence.

What didn't make the TandT?

Well, yesterday's Huffington Post had an interesting story. Recently, when Justin Trudeau was answering questions from reporters just outside the Parliament  building, there was a crowd of protesters behind him waving signs for the TV cameras to say was a terrible person Trudeau was.  Huffington Post, unlike the TandT,  has people who ask question. They got pictures and names of all the demonstrators.

They were all parliamentary interns hired by the Conservative Party. And the whole demonstration was organized in and directed from Mr. Harper's office.
I have just learned of a set of rules laid down our own Alward/Irving government a year ago. It prohibits medical staff from "acts, omissions, statements, demeanour, or professional or personal conduct which is, or is reasonably likely to be, detreminental to ,,,(Horizon Health Network.).

In plain language, this is a muzzle law. Medical staff are forbidden to tell us anything the government doesn't what us to know. We are not allowed to get any information the government doesn't want us to have.

This, with no exaggerration, is an attack on the human rights that should exist in any society that calls itself  a democracy. It's an attack on the rights of medical staff. It's an attack on our rights.

I am trying now to find our whether medical staff accepted this because, if so, they have made one hell of a big mistake. This is the kind of law that all of us have to defy - even at the price of going to jail. It is an attack on a fundamental principal of democracy and the human rights of all of us.

And if you support this sort of law, please don't spew me any bullshit about how we live in a democracy. Leave this to the professional bullshitters at Irving press.

A final note - yesterday, I was somewhat critical of a reporter who wrote a front page story that was highly unethical, and really no more than a propaganda piece for SWN. Among other things, he mentioned that a web petition circulated by anti-shale gas people has not attracted as many names as hoped for - and that this indicated the movement was losing strength

I treated that as simply the piece of propaganda it was. But I should have added a couple of points to illustrate why this is dishonest and incompetent reporting.

1. A very recent and very reputable poll which was reported in the Tand T showed that support for shale gas protesters is much, much higher than   generally realized. Indeed, the poll suggested that support is so high there is no chance of that reversing.
The reporter surely knew that. Yet, based on evidence that was very flimsy indeed, he came to a very different conclusion. Indeed, coming to any conclusion is not the job of a reporter. His job is to report what he sees and hears - not to draw judgements. When a reporter makes his own opinion a part of the story, he is simply smart-assing. And a good or even passably competent editor would have deleted it.
2. Why would people be reluctant to sign a petition.?
Hey! You're a reporter living in New Brunswick. You know what happens to people in New Brunswick who have opinions that are not acceptable to the handful of corporation bosses who run this place?
They get fired from their jobs. That's what happens. And the power of those bosses reaches down through every level of business and society. That means no job. Not anywhere. How is it possible to be a journalist in New Brunswick and not know that?
When you live in a province where people are so scared that they won't even express dangerous political opinions in public, you can bet you're not going to get many signatures on a public petition - not unless it's for the creation of another hall of fame to put Mr. Irving in..
Heil. Heil. Sieg Heil.



  1. Graeme, I believe the think tank you are referring to which did studies on climate change and flood risk in some collaborative effort with the Canadian insurance industry is the University of Western Ontario's Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction.

    The Alberta government chose to ignore their 2005 study and recommendations, to the point you now have rail bridges over the Bow River failing as a result of flood damage and rail shipments of diesel fuel falling into the Bow River, whereas the insurance industry chose to deliberately opt out of any overland flood coverage on homeowner risk. And the resulting repairs of an estimated $ 5 billion cost come largely out of taxpayer's contributions, except for those commercial risks which were insured for flood.

    This does of course raise the issue of why the insurance industry chose to accept commercial risk on flood, and decided to opt out of any homeowner coverage. Particularly since many of the same financial institutions chose to provide a mortgage on properties in high risk areas, and the same companies acting as insurance providers chose to sell inadequate property coverage to homeowners on these properties, for which they were not covered for such catastrophic loss and required to foot the bill themselves or pass the bill on to government relief funds.

    Pretty much every homeowner policy carries a benefit called additional living expenses to cover extraordinary costs and financial losses due to temporary relocation as a result of disaster, but only to the extent the initial risk such as flood damage is covered, so in this instance the Alberta taxpayer, and presumably the Canadian taxpayer for federal funds, is paying the bill not only for necessary repairs for flood damage denied under the homeowner policies, but also up to S $ 1 billion earmarked by the provincial government for temporary living expenses for the tens of thousands affected by flooding, which should have been covered under the homeowner policies.

    This is an issue the NDP should be looking at, inasmuch as homeowner insurance is mandatory on any mortgaged property, the coverage offered should be broad enough to protect the homeowner from all reasonable and expected risk, including flood risk. With the exception of Saskatchewan, all the provincial government insurance plans set up deal with auto insurance only. And the Saskatchewan Government Insurance coverage mirrors that of the Canadian insurance industry with respect to homeowner coverage on flood risk.

    So here we have a situation where hundreds of thousands of homeowners carry inadequate policies of insurance in a province such as Alberta affected by heavy flooding, where insurers opt out of coverage for such risk, where the government and homeowners end up footing the bill for billions in losses. If such is the case, and the provincial government ends up paying the claims, the government may as well step in and issue the terms of policy coverage and the policy itself in the first place and collect the premiums on such coverage, in order to offset the billions in losses incurred as a result of such catastrophic loss.

  2. There is a subsidiary argument to this, which deals with safety and health issues with respect to the insurance industry's abdication of its responsibilities with respect to catastrophic flood losses, to wit, if the insurance industry accepted responsibility for such loss, they would properly compensate homeowners for such loss, subject to some minor deductible, say $ 500 to $ 1000, but would ensure that cleanup was done properly, basements and ground floors properly decontaminated, bad material removed and replaced, that proper reliable contractors would carry out repairs in accordance with building codes, etc, etc. Insurers generally do not want to be faced with lawsuits by disgruntled policyholders and unlike the Harper government will not reward the renovation contract to the cheapest, most unreliable bidder but will rather pay a bit more to ensure the job is done properly by a reliable contractor, as they have no desire to pay for the same repairs twice.

    Whereas if renovation costs, and the responsibility for renovations is left in the hands of policyholders, with inadequate coverage, there will be a temptation to cut costs and cut corners, to not decontaminate basements, to do it themselves or award the contract to unlicensed contractors with all sorts of building code violations, improper wiring and increased fire risks, increased health risks due to mold, decreased property values and so on and so forth. So here the industry is short-sighted, as it may have avoided the restoration costs by excluding coverage for such losses on its policies, but the restored property, improperly renovated after the fact is not the same as the property initially insured, and presents greater health risks to its occupants and a greater potential loss risk to the insurer....