Thursday, April 21, 2016

April 21: Enough!

Canada ranks fourteenth out of sixteen comparable nations for its reduction of greenhouse emissions. The U.S., not suprisingly, is last. The reality is that after all these decades of conferences and promises and talks, nothing has been done. And the clock is ticking. There's a lesson in that for the Dominic Cardys of this world.

There is no point whatever in having a new political party if it's going to have the same, failed policies as the two major parties. Dominic Cardy thinks it unwise to have a more ambitious programme on climate control than the other, two parties? Okay. So why did he waste his time on another party?  Hey, if you want to be a Liberal, Mr. Cardy, by all means become one. Why waste your valuable insights on a party that was founded to be different from the Liberals?        
There's a terrible reality that our children will have to face if we won't. The climate is changing. It's changing because of us.We're just starting to see the consequences - starvation due to drought, disappearance of species, refugees desperate to escape conditions in their home countries. And this is barely a start.
Nobody knows how quickly this will happen. But it will happen, and it is happening. And our children will have to live - or die - with the consequences.
Obviously, there is not the slightest chance of Mr. Irving or either of his political parties doing anything about it.

Yes, I know fossil fuels create jobs. So does nuclear war with all the clean-up and stuff. Does anybody suggest nuclear war would be good for our economy?
And here's a story for much of the world to think about.

We could be facing huge costs as fossil fuel corporations shut down. The fact is that our laws for making them pay for the cleanup are weak - and don't even exist in most of the world. Nor is it likely we could force the owners to pay - not so long as we allow them to hide their money in tax  havens.

The fact is that capitalism is a system based on greed and self-interest. Yes, it's also based on ambition. But ambition has to be controlled or it becomes greed and self-interest. We've been lax on control - and even getting worse in our laxity. That's why free trade and the Trans-Pacific Deal are all about encouraging greed and self-interest, taking us back to a world worse than the industrialization of Canada and the U.S. in the late nineteenth century.

Either we lead or the Irvings of this world do. Think about the consequences of that.
Check out the last page of section A in the Irving press. This is from a shop called The Smoking Gun. O-o-o-o, macho. Check out how most of the rifles are designed to look like military weapons. In column  one, there's the Windham with its military cartridge and big magazine. No serious target shooter would waste money on this one. And the cartridge, while good at killing people, is rather a poor one for hunting in the forest. Ditto for the Dominion further down the column. Then, third from the bottom, is the CSA combat (wow), with a massive magazine for the heat of battle. The cartridge and the design make it useless for target shooting or hunting of any kind. Even against people, it's useful only at very short range (like in a bank) and, preferably, against unarmed people.
Some of the pistols can be called 'shooting range' guns. But most of them are simply for killing people at short ranges.

Most of the weapons on the page are designed for men who need to feel, you know, manly. And that suggests a certain degree of immaturity. It's really time to look at our gun laws again. Nice as it is to put up monuments to our police who were murdered on duty, it would be even nicer to make such murders less likely to happen.
A big story on A3 is that a black cat named Boo is in stable condition after being saved from a house fire. Well, that certainly changes my plans for the day. There's also a half page about mayoral candidates in Bathurst having a TV debate. More interesting is an ad on the facing page that you can get 2 litres of Tetley Tea for just 99 cents at the Superstore.
The editorial is another piece of boosterism. Look, an editorial is supposed to be an opinion piece reflecting on a major issue, and giving the unanimous opinion of the editorial staff. Please check  your old notes from journalism school.
Norbert's column is simply a repeat of the editorial. In effect, we get the editorial twice. It's okay, Norbert. I think we got it the first time. (P.S. Part of the job of an editor is to make sure this doesn't happen.)

Then there's a commentary by a Conservative MLA. That, like the photo above it of a university so we know what one looks like,  is a cheap way to fill space. But if we must suffer what are, in effect, free ads for politicians, we should be seeing the full range of political opinions in this province. And that full range should include all parties whether they have elected members or not. And it should be equal for all parties.

We need a full range of opinion. We aren't getting it.

The other guest commentary (on physician-hastened death) at least has the merit of being intelligent.

Alec Bruce makes a good point, if one that comes too late. Provinces enjoying a resource boom should save a lot of money for the day the boom runs out - as Alberta and Newfoundland are discovering.

In fact, when the Alberta oil boom began, the premier of that time DID set up such a fund. But it was soon forgotten by his successors. Of course. Such an arrangement  could affect their profits.
As for Canada and World section, we're still in New Brunswick for half of the section . Among this half is the joyful news that The New Brunswick Business council (you know, jes' folks like McCain Foods and Ganong) has set up a committee to advise the provincial and federal government on climate change.
And what qualifications does this council have? Well, you know, they're rich. Their already are provincial and federal government committees studying this. But, you know, they might do foolish things, things that would unjustly penalize business. A provincial government official was very polite when asked about  his. He used nice words. But the message was clear, "Get stuffed."

On the world front, there's an important story that a Toronto man is refusing to take down a treehouse in his yard.

But, credit where credit is due. The paper does have the big story that 500 refugees are feared dead after their ship went down. Too bad that story is four days late.
So, Hillary Clinton won the New York primary. Or did she?

The U.S. is notorious for the corruption of its election system. George Bush won his first term largely because of a victory in Florida. We've known for a long time that victory was engineered by brother Jeb Bush, who was then governor of Florida.  He disqualified large numbers from voting. (Though the Irving press probably didn't have that story.)

That sort of cheating has been routine in American elections for a very long time. It reminds me of my childhood in Montreal, when neighbourhood thugs rented themselves out to ride in trucks on election day, and to descend on voting sites that were considered undesirable by the 'boss'. Then, they would pile out, wreck everything, destroy ballots and maybe beat up a few people - and then ride to the next. Funny thing, police were never there.

Here's the story on Hillary's 'victory' in New York.
Here's another story that wasn't important enough for the Irving press.
It must have been a year ago that Volkswagen was proven to have faked the level of dangerous emissions from its diesel cars. (The CEO was severely punished. He had to resign with a severance pay of only 90 million dollars.)

Now the scandal is getting much worse as other brands are being revealed as cheaters.  (Check out your Mitsubishi).

Germany's time limit to remedy this problem has passed - and virtually nothing has been done. Canada, in particular, seems indifferent to the whole issue - as does the U.S. (So tell me all about Trudeau's wonderful plans to fight climate change.)
The name of Roy Cohn is one I had almost forgotten. He was a thoroughly despised lawyer for Senator McCarthy when the senator was building an American panic over communists hiding under their beds.

Now, it seems, we learn that he was a great influence on the creation of Donald Trump. He also played a role in making all newspapers, large and small, into propaganda machines.
Today's sample of "the wealthy create jobs".
This is a site I haven't paid much attention to. I really must in future.
We are living in an age of extraordinary brutality, greed, killing.... And all of it seems to be connected with the 'ethics' of big business. Every day, people are murdered or tortured or exploited all over the world.

We, who were taught to detest the German use of torture, now use it to a greater degree than any people in history. (Yes, Canada was involved in the Bush/Obama torture business.) Our democracy has been all but destroyed, with big business and its owners of most news media being a major factor. We have sent Canadians to kill and to die in wars that have nothing whatever to do with us (Afghanistan, figher-bombers in Iraq and Syria, 'non-combat' troop to Syria.) We learned from the Boer War, over a century ago, the folly of that when we sent Canadians to die for British oil billionaires in South Africa. But the lesson has been forgotten.
Big business is motivated only by greed. Nothing else. It's a vicious, attack dog. And we're letting it run loose.

We will get nothing from this. The wealthy will get richer until the system collapses - and it will collapse. And we? We will get poorer. It's happening now. It has been happening for some years. The patients have taken over the asylum.
That's why we have a Donald Trump on the rise. That's why his major opponent is a bloodthirsty and money-hungry Hillary Clinton. And Canada's political and economic state is not significantly different from that of the U.S. as we have allowed ourselves to be governed by parties of very inferior politicians completely subordinate to big business.

There are crises that are very close. There's a crisis of playing nuclear games as we are, a crisis of 'American exceptionalism' as all such schemes to conquer the world have been. There's a crisis of economic stability, only a part of which is the refusal of the wealthy to pay their share. There's a climate crisis which big business is encouraging because to deal with it would interfere with profits.
There's a crisis of  information and understanding, and only part of that is due to lying, propangandist news media. Much of the crisis lies in our refusal to see what is happening. We're too eager to conform, to fit in with standards as defined by the news media and their manipulating owners.

In this setting, a Donald Trump is not an accident. Here is a man who is all spectacle and no substance, a creation of a world of TV game shows and android cell phones - and of a public which wants to rebel but wants to do it while still conforming -  which means not really doing anything at all except getting involved as reality show spectators.

Hillary Clinton and most Canadian political leaders are as bad, but without the entertainment value of a Trump.

Somehow, we have to learn not to 'fit in', not to be so boringly (and suicidally) conformist. And not so damned silent.


  1. Your observations on car emissions show the usual lack of understanding about car pollution, and hence come to incorrect conclusions. There are two types of pollution being bandied about, CO2 and NOx.

    VW admitted that its DIESEL-powered vehicles, not gasoline-powered ones, had a cheater device so that NOx, the prime ingredient in smog when it is subjected to UV in sunlight, was up to 40 times higher on the road than in the lab. That's what the Guardian article is about. It turns out that all the major car makers' diesels grossly pollute with NOx with no hope of meeting lab testing levels on the road. That is why downtown London, Paris and Rome have untenable air quality, because more then half the cars are diesel powered.

    The EU and its constituent governments have pushed diesel-powered cars for well over 20 years now, because they emit lower levels of CO2, the global warming gas, per mile than do gasoline-powered ones. They did this by jacking up the price of gasoline with taxes and reducing the price of diesel. In the process, they also set pollution levels for NOx, which are basically not possible from a diesel engine without massive exhaust treatment. They therefore have no one to blame but themselves for ruining the air quality with smog.

    Nobody thought to check the manufacturers; they all sat around on their bureaucratic bums and assumed that everything was proceeding according to the rule book. Being insufferably stupid, the bureaucrats wrote the lab testing rules, but somehow forgot to write in them that these pollution levels were expected to be maintained on the road. How stupid can they be? Incredibly stupid, like promulgating regulations for selling eggs by weight and how straight bananas should be.

    In the US, the situation has been incredibly different. The EPA DOES expect that lab tests will transfer directly to the real world. But they never got round to checking that this was in fact happening until research by a West Virginia university using methods developed by researchers in Europe proved the boondoggle they had on their hands. Then they took action last September 18.

    Today, April 21, was the day that VW US had to present a plan to correct the problems in 500,000 affected diesel powered cars from VW from model years 2009 to 2015 already on US roads. There is no fix, as any competent engineer could tell the lawmakers and judge, so VW is going to offer each owner a cash payment and a buyback of the vehicle at its market value on Sept 18 last year. We're talking billions of dollars, perhaps $10B.

    Thus your comment "Canada, in particular, seems indifferent to the whole issue - as does the U.S." is risible. It is the exact opposite to the truth where the US is concerned. VW is on the ropes, because they are also facing legal action from the EPA through the US Department of Justice for false advertising, and the presence of a cheating device contrary to law. The fines could total $40B.

    Then there's South Korea which has already prosecuted the head of VW there. The US head of VW resigned last month and skedaddled as he was named in individual pending lawsuits. He's hiding somewhere in the EU, they think. There are actions pending from over 40 state US attorney generals and in many countries as well. You just haven't kept up with the uproar. /2

  2. 1/
    The titular overall head of VW last September, Martin Winterkorn, resigned last Sept 24, but was discovered by reporters a mere three weeks later heading up Audi, a wholly owned VW subsidiary. They finally cleaned him off the books last month. These are the managerial plutocrats who much like Irving show interest only in themselves and are arrogant with it.

    The entire German car industry has been in shock because the Americans have shown ZERO signs of humour about VW's cheating on the diesel engine NOx output. All diesels cannot meet the US EPA limits, except, paradoxically, those big rigs which carry enough urea liquid to properly treat the exhaust. A Leeds University UK research unit that has developed a roadside NOx sniffer has found that all, I repeat ALL, car diesels pollute more NOx than newer big rigs and buses, which essentially do meet standard. Amazing.

    Leeds also found that all car gasoline-engined vehicles in fact DO meet the NOx emission standards just like in the lab. Well, wonder of wonders. No need to fall back on legalese. Luckily, in North America, the vast majority of private vehicles are powered by gasoline.

    If the Americans hadn't kicked up a fuss about VW diesels when they eventually found out the truth and confronted the company, then the Europeans would no doubt have sailed on for years fooling themselves. The German transport ministry rubber-stamped "fixes" for VW diesels in Germany back on Dec 22, and everyone with any technical background could see it was an absolute farce. It was merely the German government covering up an inconvenient truth - and due to EU rules, the German "solution" was imposed on all other member countries of the EU. It is a process called Type Approval. What a useless place, great in theory, no good in practice.

    Just as I respect your background in political matters, doesn't mean you necessarily know much about this VW diesel situation, Mr Decarie. The car blogs have been full of this scandal from Day One in North America, whereas over in Europe they just shrug their shoulders.

    Now, the Mitsubishi situation. It's all about CO2 emissions, which translated is fuel mileage. Simply put, Mitsubishi overstated expected mileage on their Kei minicars, a type of car sold only in Japan.

    On the other hand, both Hyundai and Ford have already been found guilty of the same thing in the US, been fined and rebated owners in the US and Canada. Compared to the diesel NOx scandal, this is small beans.