7.24.2014

Seeing the Tsilhqot’in Decision Only Through the Veil of Our Hopes is Naive and Dangerous

Chilko Lake - Spiritual Center of the Tsilhqot’in peoples

Since writing 3 articles [here, here and here] about the impacts of the Supreme Court of Canada [SCOC] Tsilhqot’in decision i've received a lotta emails from a wide range of readers, including quite a few U.S. attorneys. The one thing i can say unequivocally is that the responses show just how valid the Rorschach Test is. Conservatives and investors see the decision as a road map to successful development strategies. Liberals see it as a regulatory victory against unbridled development. Human rights advocates see it as a huge victory for non-treaty First Nation [FN] peoples who have been treated so unfairly for so long by the European colonists [with which i totally agree]. Environmentalists see it as winning an important battle, but certainly not the war [me too].

FNs themselves see it in their own Rorschachian way. Some, like the Tsilhqot’in leaders, spoke with heartfelt joy the day after the ruling about how hopefully now their poverty stricken villages can afford running water, septic tanks and maybe year around road access. Others who have already signed treaty agreements [especially after the Grassy Narrows decision a week later] know that the new Aboriginal Title rights are meaningless for them.

Many other First Nations who haven't signed away their claims through past treaties view the Tsilhqot’in decision with great hope. The Sechelts, whom i lived next door to for over 35 years, said in an article in the local paper that the, "High court ruling will have ‘astronomical’ impact". Citing the fact that BC's Ministry of Forests had already contacted them to setup a consultation process about development proposals on the Sechelt's traditional lands.

It's mainly this last, perhaps overly optimistic, group i'm concerned about.

Quoting Judith Sayers, Aboriginal Law Professor at UVIC about the 'Right of Consent' portion of the ruling: "The court was clear that when aboriginal title has been proved as the Tsilhqot’in have, they must consent to any development on their lands.  If they do not consent to development, the government must ensure that it has fully consulted and accommodated their interest and can only do things that have compelling and substantial objectives and now have to take into account the aboriginal perspective on their actions. They must also ensure their action are consistent with their fiduciary obligation and are within the framework of s. 35 requirement.  That means there will be minimal impairment to aboriginal interests and there is enough for future generations.  Finally, there has to be a principled reconciliation of First Nations interests with the interests of all Canadians.  Principled, a new word added by the courts for a good reason."

IMO, whatever development a First Nation doesn't consent to will be taken to court by the government who will claim the development has "compelling and substantial public purpose" [which Canada's Harper regime already claims willy nilly about every corporate friendly thing]. The only recourse Aboriginal Title holders would have, if the claim of "compelling and substantial public purpose" is upheld in court, is to a fair 'market' compensation [again probably determined by a court]. gone will be the right to defend the 'web of life' that supports us all on spiritual grounds. In the eyes of the courts, money talks and bullshit walks. In which case, the latest jubilation will turn into another debacle for the environment. It will though, thankfully, stand as a human rights victory for Canada's FNs and will be a big step towards a more fair economic solution for some FNs going forward which is a very good thing.

Almost all of the U.S. lawyers pointed out how important the use of the word 'compelling' is in the SCOC Tsilhqot’in ruling. Compelling is apparently a pivotal word in Eminent Domain law stateside. As of now the law there follows the Illinois State Supreme Court ruling which says, "That any government body can generally always find some public purpose to justify a taking therefore there must be a limit on the eminent domain power." Going on to say, "The court is the main guardian of the public needs in eminent domain cases" And, "That compensation for the easement or foreclosure, if not arrived at through negotiation, must be determined by the courts."

The Fraser Institutes's latest report sees a growing role for Ottawa to 'justifiably infringe' on Aboriginal rights. It warned if two sides can't come to terms - a growing challenge given the polarized debates over pipelines and oil sands - it will create a greater role for governments to "justifiably infringe" on Aboriginal rights to ensure the development goes forward for the greater good of the country. Adding, "The federal and Alberta governments routinely cite the national importance of building pipelines to tidewater ports to transport growing volumes of oil [tar-ed.] sands bitumen to lucrative oil markets in Asia and around the world. Ottawa has estimated the lack of market access costs Canada as much as $18 billion annually."

It's time for all Canadians to look into what is 'really' happening and how this precedent setting SCOC decision is going to be used in the exploitation of an estimated 33 trillion dollars of our natural resource wealth in Canada. Seeing the world only through our own preconceptions, our own worldview, our own hopes, is naive and dangerous.

7.23.2014

MH17 Propaganda-'Other Side's' Version of Events. Common Sense-'Your Side's' Version of the Events

Head of General Staff of the Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Andrey Kartopolov ( left) and chief of the Air Force Main Staff Lt. Gen. Igor Makushev ( right) at a media conference in Moscow, July 21

Propaganda is the 'other side's' version of not clearly defined events. Whereas common sense is the only justification needed when 'your side' posits their theory of those events. That's exactly where the we all are right now about who shot down MH17 over Eastern Ukraine nearly a week ago. Nobody knows, or at least there is no public information out there that clearly defines the facts. Yet the western MSM has taken the U.S.version of events as gospel hook, line and stinker.

Of course, i don't know what happened that sorry day either and as i said the other day, "...the details here are as clear as mud. The most likely scenario is that a mistake was made by the rebels who thought they were firing at a government transport plane." It now appears, according to the article 'Airliner Shot Down 'By Mistake' say US Officials' quoting new comments from high-level U.S. officials and portions of declassified intelligence information released on Tuesday that indicate - contrary to earlier comments by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry - that Russia had no direct involvement in last week's Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 disaster. A tiny climb down from the Obama team at best. They still refuse to release any pictures or video instead relying on the meaningless common sense argument.

From the 'other side' though Russia has released military monitoring data, images and video which show plenty of documented evidence dis-proving 'our side's' version of events and posed 10 questions from the highest ranking Russian military leaders to Ukraine and the US over the circumstances surrounding the MH17 tragedy. Please read through these questions as they certainly won't be appearing in the western media anywhere.

This past week has seen quite a few articles by other highly respected independent journalists from around the world who haven't bought the pentagon's spin. All of them remember the the pentagon's lies about weapons of mass destruction leading to the Iraq war for example.

Pepe Escobar's always insightful column The Roving Eye in the Asia Times Online focuses on the larger questions as well as the lack of clarity about the event itself.

Robert Parry's explosive piece 'What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine?' says, "What I’ve been told by one source, who has provided accurate information on similar matters in the past, is that U.S. intelligence agencies do have detailed satellite images of the likely missile battery that launched the fateful missile, but the battery appears to have been under the control of Ukrainian government troops dressed in what look like Ukrainian uniforms."

A little chill ran down my back this morning when i considered the possible implications of Russia's 10 questions. When playing Texas Hold'em a player doesn't show his hole cards until the end and maybe not in this great game either. Could it be that the reason the Pentagon won't release their proof is that they know the Russians have far more in the hole than they're showing so far? Could it be that the Yanquis can't let Russia's evidence hit the media in answer to, and totally invalidating, whatever the Pentagon releases.

If this story were to blow up on the Americans, if they were shown to be lying through their teeth for geo-political advantage even their now compliant corporate media genuflecters could use the opening to begin questioning a whole lotta lies. Anyway i remember how reluctant the people living around me in my hometown in New England were back in the 60s to accept any information that countered their government's propaganda about Vietnam and this feels the same now. The difference is now the whole world is watching because of the Internet and Snowden has already put a big dent in people's gullibility quotient in accepting propaganda from the Empire's truthy-ness machinery.

Finally, who knows, but as Frank Zappa said, "I think that if a person doesn't feel cynical then they're out of phase with the 21st century. Being cynical is the only way to deal with modern civilization, you can't just swallow it whole."

7.19.2014

The IMF’s Demand That Kiev 'Pacify' the Eastern Rebels Makes Them an Accomplice to Murder

Malaysia Airways Boeing 777

Who knows at this point who actually pushed the button that launched the missile downing Malaysian Airlines MH17 over eastern Ukraine and the murder of 300 innocent people. Was it a mistake by the rebels? A false flag operation by Kiev? But one thing is certain, nothing happens in a vacuum, set and setting are always factors. One factor unmentioned in the western media, or anywhere else that i can find, is the role played the IMF's conditions in pressuring Kiev to continue the violence instead of negotiating a settlement with the rebels.

The Zerohedge article on 05/01/2014, 'IMF Warns Ukraine: Fight For The East Or No Money', says, quoting the IMF announcement of the previous day, "If Ukraine government loses effective control over the east of the country, the $17B IMF bailout would need to be redesigned." Which, roughly translated, appears to mean go to war with pro-Russian forces and 'pacify' the resistance or you don't get your money.

As economist and author Michael Hudson told RT’s Truthseeker [complete interview here]: "IMF and European lending is designed to prop up the Ukrainian currency so the Ukrainian oligarchs can move their money safely to British and US banks. Adding, "The IMF has publicly threatened and blackmailed Ukraine that it will ‘re-design’ its aid package, unless Kiev goes to war on fellow Ukrainians in the East of the country and stops them protesting. Does that not make it now literally a criminal accomplice or instigator of war and murder?"

Hudson concludes ominously, "What is at issue is whether economies throughout the world will let financial leverage dismantle the power of elected governments, and hence of democracy. Governments are sovereign. No government actually needs to pay foreign debts or submit to policies that negate the three definitions of a state: to create its own money, to levy taxes, and to declare war. At issue is who shall rule the world: the emerging 1% as a financial oligarchy, or elected governments. The two sets of aims are antithetical: rising living standards and national independence, or a renting economy, austerity and international dependency."

When assessing who is guilty of a crime establishing motive is usually of prime investigative importance. The criminologist’s question is: who benefits? It seems to me the only side that would stand to profit by this atrocity is Ukraine and the U.S. What would they have to gain by shooting down a friendly aircraft? On the surface, nothing. However, when a person one listens to the rhetoric being ratcheted up by seemingly outraged voices directed at Russia who would have nothing to gain by having a passenger aircraft shot down, or to encouraging the separatists to do it, one sees some of reason for the U.S. side to have murdered 298 humans. False Flag operations have been the CIA's trademark since its inception.This mass murder could be yet one more bloody instance.

Today's article by Finian Cunningham titled 'US Aims at Blowing EU-Russia Rift with Downed Airliner' speaks to the immediate returns such a False Flag operation might generate for Washington's 'Evil Empire'. In this long but very informative piece Finian points out that, "American geopolitical interests are best served by this atrocity, by shocking a laggardly Europe into adopting its aggressive sanctions towards Russia, even though that militates against European economic concerns. Shooting down a civilian airliner would ensure blowing a decisive rift between Europe and Russia."

Countering the U.S. claims that they have satellite and other 'intelligence' proving that the missile was fired from rebel held territory are the reports from local eyewitness that claim they saw Ukrainian army units fire surface-to-air missiles, or official Russian military sources who say they have radar traces on the ill-fated day also implicating the pro-Kiev forces?

So the details here are as clear as mud. The most likely scenario is that a mistake was made by the rebels who thought they were firing at a government transport plane. But, if it isn't a mistake and we may never know for sure, considering that the three biggest questions in any muddy criminal investigation, and the murder of 300 innocent people is a criminal act, all sides, IMO, equally have the 'Means' and the "Oppurtunity' but only one side has the 'Motive'.

7.05.2014

My Question: Does the Tsilhqot’in Decision Bring U.S Style Eminent Domain into Canadian Law?


In the last week a number of very good articles have been written by a number of very well educated legal experts about the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) decision in Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia.  The two best from my perspective are 'Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia: Implications for the Enbridge Tankers and Pipelines Project' by Jessica Clogg, Executive Director and Senior Counsel of West Coast Environmental Law and 'How the Tsilhqot'in Decision Changes Business in BC' by Judith Sayers (Kekinusuqs), a lawyer from the Hupacasath First Nation in Port Alberni, B.C. Both of their remarks and opinions are written in non-jargon, neither is overly long winded, and each comes from a slightly different point of view.

i learned a lot from both of the articles and others, but neither of them or any of the many others i've read. Attempts to answer my 'Big Question' [below]. Apparently this is a big question according to legal experts in the U.S. who have written to me in the last few days about my last Mud Report - 'The SCOC's Historic Tsilhqot'in Decision Granted Aboriginal Tiltle Plus Rights and Responsibilities'.

i have written to Jessica Clogg, Judith Sayers and others who worked on the Tsilhqot’in case but have received no replies as of now from any Canadian lawyer. i assured all of them that they could feel free to send their opinions, thoughts, comments to me without me ever revealing their or their firm's name and that, as i've assured many others on a wide variety of issues, that i'd never quote them without their express consent. i've assured them all on every issue i write about that i'm only interested in an educated answer to help me better explain whatever issue it is to my readers. If you have an informed opinion about my question, please help me out. i guarantee your anonymity too.

My Big Question is:

My question is about how this decision actually introduces the concept of Eminent Domain into Canadian law. In the ruling it states that the new Aboriginal Title holders are obliged to consent to an easement if/when the govt. proves in court the project is in the greater public good. The only recourse the Aboriginal Title holders have, if the claim of "compelling and substantial public purpose" is upheld in court, is to a fair 'market' compensation [again probably determined by a court].

This is exactly how the Tar Sands Resistance movement in Texas was overrun. The courts ruled and the cops enforced the Eminent Domain law that says the landowners had to give an easement for the KXL pipeline [regardless of their proof of eventual damage to their multi-generational ownership land] but were due fair 'market' compensation for their losses.

The Texans tried to argue the Trans Canada Corp was a foreign entity so the law didn't apply, that was thrown out. In the end the only voice that had 'standing' was the govt. declaration of the greater public good.

What i fear will really happen is appeal after appeal of the wording of bits and pieces of the new ruling by governments and corporations not real consultation. Followed, if they lose their court appeals, by declarations of exception because of the "compelling and substantial public purpose" line.

This argument that whatever development a First Nation doesn't consent to is one is "compelling and substantial public purpose" will be used at every hearing in every case by every government -local, provincial and federal. Sooner or later i fear the courts will agree with the Texas Supreme Court's logic [and many other U.S. precedents before that] about Eminent Domain and the latest jubilation will turn into another debacle for the environment. It will though, thankfully, stand as a human rights victory for Canada's FNs and will be a big step towards a more fair economic solution for FNs going forward which is a very good thing.


6.28.2014

The SCOC's Historic Tsilhqot'in Decision Granted Aboriginal Tiltle Plus Rights and Responsibilities

Chief Francis Laceese, of the Tl'esqox First Nation, who still oppose the NGP after the SCOC Tsilhqot'in decision

i live in B.C.. Two days ago was a day of celebration among everyone i know because of the historic unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada [SCOC] about the granting of aboriginal title to the Tsilhqot'in people. Then yesterday a more 'sober' attitude caused me to remember that rights and responsibilities are two sides of the same coin. After spending hours yesterday reading the opinions of legal experts, politicians, environmentalists, industry spokespeople, investment analysts and just plain folks, i went to bed with my mind muddled and my questions multiplied.

The ruling, according to legal experts, is historic in terms of First Nations land title and their future financial compensation for resource extraction and jobs for their peoples. This is very important as so many First Nations throughout Canada live in 3rd world conditions [or worse] despite the fact the lands they traditionally have lived on for centuries are so abundant in natural resources.

However the ruling, according the experts does not give First Nations a 'veto' over development on their lands. The government can still bypass the consent of First Nations to any project, including the Northern Gateway Project "by establishing a pressing and substantial public purpose" which is exactly what the Harper regime will do in each and every court case.

Yes the ruling does mean that First Nations will be compensated for the value of the imposition on their 'rights' [think Eminent Domain] but that's all it means in terms of environmental protection. In the Tsilhqot'in decision the SCOC defined not just the rights we were jubilantly celebrating but also some of the responsibilities on the other side of the coin. As i went to bed last night after trying to assemble a coherent picture of all this i realized i was still muddled.

This morning it became clearer that my BIG question is: Can First Nations [ceded or un-ceded land, new decision type of title or not] say NO to things like pipelines on the grounds of long term devastation to the biosphere or must they, like in the case of Eminent domain in the US, grant an easement then negotiate a compensation package based on the monetary 'market' value of the imposition?

The Supreme Court's ruling on the Tsilhqot'in case makes clear that this new aboriginal title does not give a band a veto on development. Governments must notify and consult bands whose rights may be infringed upon, and try to meaningfully accommodate the concerns. The bands must negotiate to reasonably resolve their concerns.


What about the Wet'suwet'en people, and many others, who never signed a treaty [unceded lands], who don't, as of now, have this type of Aboriginal title to their traditional lands but vow to keep all pipelines off their land? The Supreme Court stated, "the provincial or federal government can only pass laws impacting on lands under Aboriginal title if it shows a compelling and substantial benefit to the general public." But what about the Wet'suwet'en people's blockade? How about the many other First Nations living on unceded lands not covered by this new Aboriginal title who strenuously oppose the plans of developers [think Site C, LNG/fracking, forestry, mining, etc], who have stated numerous times they have no intent to permit the destruction of the web of life that supports us all on their traditional lands regardless of environmental protection or mitigation efforts?

The environmental destruction war up here in B.C. is far from over. One important battle for First Nations rights has been won, but that's all. First Nations have been being screwed for a long time up here. As of a couple days ago, they are now less screwed financially, but the biosphere is just as endangered, maybe more so, than it was before the ruling. IMO, most First Nations have been fighting for their traditional integrated biosphere worldview, for the web of life that supports us all, not compensation. But that's most, not all. First Nations are just people, they have different views, like all of us, they live under different conditions and pressures. The  Tsilhqot'in leaders, for instance have talked almost exclusively about the compensation due them and the third world conditions that their people and so many other First Nations live under and how this ruling will change that.

Below are some interesting quotes that, IMO, show how this 'clear and consise' ruling, like all human utterances, is being interpreted through the worldviews of the interpreters. Of course, i too chose those quotes that resonate best with my often muddled worldview.

“This [decision] gives them the right to determine, subject to the inherent limits of group title held for future generations, the uses to which the land is put and to enjoy its economic fruits, wrote McLachlin in a decision joined unanimously by seven other judges.
McLachlin rooted her definition of Aboriginal title in the oldest of legal authorities, the English common law, and its equation of ownership with general occupancy of the land:" which says "A general occupant at common law is a person asserting possession of land over which no one else has a present interest or with respect to which title is uncertain.” - Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun

"The court established strict environmental rules that aboriginal groups and the government can do nothing to harm land for future generations. She said that in cases where aboriginal consultation on projects is in question, the government may be required to begin those processes over." - West Coast Environmental Law attorney Jessica Clogg

"The Supreme Court's unanimous ruling that governments must consult in good faith on proposed uses of aboriginal lands that could impair aboriginal rights will apply to decisions by all levels of government on major resource projects. The court also said governments may have to reassess prior conduct and legislation, which could prompt court challenges of past government actions, including controversial 2012 amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act." - Jean Crowder, aboriginal affairs critic for the New Democratic Party in the Canadian Parliament. 

"All of which raises an interesting question. If we are agreed to constitutionally protect the property rights of some Canadians, why do we shrink from doing the same for others? Recall that the same Constitution that entrenched aboriginal rights, from which we now see derived aboriginal title, declined to protect the right to own property - a right that is also founded in common law, and that is often spelled out in statute, but was deemed unworthy of constitutional entrenchment. Like aboriginal title, the right to property is not absolute: In the constitutions of other countries, it is typically expressed as the right not to be deprived of one's property except by due process of law, and with just compensation. And yet at the time it was considered expendable. It would be too costly to have to compensate property holders for infringing on their rights. It would be inconvenient." - Andrew Coyne, The Leader Post, Regina

6.26.2014

Joy in Mudville, Canadian Supreme Court Grants Title to the Tsilhqot'in Nation in Historic Case

Chief Roger William of Xeni Gwet'in speaks about the SCOC decision on aboriginal land title 

First Nations leaders were jubilant and more than a bit surprised this morning by the clarity and scope of the Supreme Court of Canada's precedent setting decision today recognizing an aboriginal title claim to land for which there is no treaty - land that was never ceded. Most First Nations communities in B.C. never signed treaties or land agreements, but the band argued it could claim title because the band has traditionally occupied the land since before European settlers arrived.

The unanimous ruling, written by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, also said all economic projects on traditional Aboriginal territories will now require “consent” as well as consultation before they proceed. Reacting to the decision Thursday, Tsilhqot'in Nation Chief Roger William [pictured above] said, "Once the first people of this country have title, then only good things are going to come. We have come from our land, we come from our people, from our history. We are part of the land."

The Vancouver Sun's article 'Landmark Supreme Court ruling grants land title to B.C. First Nation' says, "A room full of surprised veteran B.C. Aboriginal leaders erupted in “cheers and tears” after the Supreme Court of Canada, in the most important aboriginal rights case in the country’s history, ruled that the Tsilhqot’in First Nation has title 1,750 square kilometres of land in south central B.C."

Aboriginal title isn't absolute, but the ruling means agriculture, forestry, mining, and hydroelectric or pipeline development proposed for the area will require consent from the Tsilhqot'in Nation. One of the lawyers who worked on the Tsilhqot'in case, David Rosenberg, of Woodward and Company Lawyers, said, "This is a majorly important precedent with far-reaching implications for other First Nations."

Congratulations are rolling in from First Nations and environmental groups all across Canada and beyond. Everyone, including the mr. mud, understands the huge difference between the words 'consultation' and 'consent'. Before today's decision the governments and industry simply had to have some meaningless meeting with a First Nation and claim that as the required consultation, which is what they did time and time again, to fulfill their legal obligations was met. Now, it's a new ballgame.

For sure the Harper government, the provincial governments and corporate 'developers' will be using every type of bribery and every lie they can think of to convince First Nations to grant their consent on all the present controversial projects in western Canada, including the Northern Gateway, the Kinder-Morgan Expansion, Site C and B.C.'s fracking/LNG nightmare. But given the strong opposition of First Nations groups who now have the right to title and control of lands that each of this projects requires to proceed, this is a great day for trillions of living creatures, for the future non-renewable fresh water resources, or the air we all breathe and the futures of our children and grandchildren.

Of course, the war isn't over, but it sure feels good to win even one battle for a change. The billionaires and their corrupted government lackeys won't just quit, they'll wiggle and squirm and try other tactics. The already fast paced expansion of 'pipelines by rail' will quicken, so will the movement of tar sands crud and other heavy oils by truck and the pipelines that go directly from Alberta to the U.S. on existing rights of way will be expanded as fast as possible.

As Adam Brandt, an energy expert at Stanford University, pointed out recently, “With growing global demand, the economic pressure to develop unconventional resources is enormous and not going away. Can environmental groups expect to win a series of fights for decades to come, when the economic forces are aligned very strongly against them in each round? The answer is obvious: no. The emphasis should be on demand, not supply."

This morning my inbox was alive with perhaps more enthusiasm and joy from every quarter than ever before. So today there's joy in Mudville because we're all - flora, fauna, microbes, minerals, forces and faeries - in this together. And untold trillions of our cousins will live another while in harmony with the Great Mother of us all.

6.22.2014

Fracking Protestors Don't Need Secret Russian Conspiracies to Empower Them, They Have Facts

Ya gotta hand it to the dis-information folks in the fossil fuel industry, this time they've managed to fill the rightwing media with ridiculous stories that say the evil Russians are orchestrating the worldwide. anti-fracking protests. In case you haven't heard about it, two days ago the out-going Secretary-general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen,  said it was his personal opinion that the Russian government was secretly working with green organisations to paint the process of extracting shale gas in a bad light and that, "that he believes Russia is working with environmental groups to oppose fracking developments in Europe, so that countries stay hooked on Russia’s gas supply."

Of course, the claim has sparked ridicule from environmentalists who know full well that outrage against fracking, the fossil fuel industry's latest scheme to get rich by destroying the biosphere, needs no support beyond common sense. Rasmussen offered zero proof of his claims and Greenpeace, the major focus of Rasmussen's dis-information statement that Russia is involved in a secret anti-fracking plot, says, “The idea we’re puppets of Putin is so preposterous that you have to wonder what they’re smoking over at NATO HQ,” a Greenpeace spokesman said,. "Mr Rasmussen should spend less time dreaming up conspiracy theories and more time on the facts.”

The story has grown like a California brush fire throughout the fracking friendly media. Some now saying that, "Russian secret agents have infiltrated Greenpeace and other campaign groups to co-ordinate the war against fracking, it has been alleged. The Kremlin's distaste for shale gas fracking is not down to a keenly-felt concern for its environmental impact. It is pure economics, born from a desire to keep Europe dependent on gas imports from Moscow." [notice the lawyerly use of 'alleged'].

Methane bubbling up through to the surface through the fractured geologic structure that contained it before fracking destroyed that containment.

The last couple of weeks The Mud Report has focused on the fracking facts in detail complete with links to peer reviewed scientific studies from the world's leading researchers about the existential dangers that this short-sighted, stupid scheme poses. In short, fracking's abuse of our globe's limited and non-renewable fresh water resources, it's release of fugitive methane emissions from both drilling and geological fracture into groundwater and it's deleterious impact on the people and environment make the fracking industry and the corrupt governments who genuflect at its alter the 'Real Terrorists'.

The fossil fuel industry knows that studies by scientists maybe true but they are inconvenient hurdles that must be neutralized in the minds of consumers lest they begin to question the system that's delivering their world consuming exceptional lifestyles. Questioning by consumers must be avoided above all, and what better way to avoid those questions than to blame the evil Russians.

As one commentor wrote, "Drilling holes in the earth and using explosives to destroy sub-strata to release coveted fossil fuel located thousands of feet down? What could go wrong? The science is well-proven? Like all science, there are assumptions that are made based upon risk-reward modeling. I suggest that there are many more outcomes and consequences to fracking than the energy companies and regulators are willing to admit. It's against their best financial interests to do so. It's why tobacco companies maintained smoking was safe for years...until the mountain of evidence was so great, and the pool of retrievable monies so great, that the lawyers changed their allegiances to where they could reap their next class action pot of gold."

IMO, the worldwide fracking outrage is based solely on the ability of everyday people to study and learn for themselves what the truth is about any and every issue. The capitalist democratic governments can't be trusted, they are all on the corporate payroll. The authoritarian, totalitarian governments [including Russia] can't be trusted either. The corporate media is totally controlled by their owners [though by reading a very wide spectrum of their bullshit a person can often find by 'telemetry' a few bits of content that slipped through here and there, then, by accumulating those bits and following them by personal investigation, find answers to their questions].

6.19.2014

The Enbridge Pipeline Divide is More Than Politics, it's Individual Self-Interest vs. The Web of Life

Protestors in Vancouver yesterday supporting the 'Web of Life'

In the last couple days since the Harper regime, as expected by all observers, gave Enbridge's Northern Gateway Project the thumbs up i've been watching and reading the responses by as many people as possible from both sides of this great divide. My conclusion is that this divide is deeply philosophical in nature. We all see and except those things that fit into our worldview and efficiently filter out everything that doesn't. i realize, at least intellectually, that this must be the truth in my case as well as everyone else's on both sides of the pipeline divide.That said, the divide between supporters of the Northern Gateway Project [NGP] and the opponents seems to broadly be defined by two very basic and almost totally opposite worldviews.

Time after time i've heard/read supporters give the same sort of answer when asked why they support the project. Basically it boils down to: We all have the lifestyles and comforts we enjoy because of the sale of natural resources. There are a few deviations, some supporters will say "God given natural resources" or "we all need jobs and growth". After listening/reading at least a hundred supporters' answers, from my perspective, every one of them is saying that their, and their family's, economic well being is the paradigm through which they view the question. This paradigm is totally understandable both because in an evolutionary and survival sense without that focus our ancestors would have been saber-tooth tiger chow and the fact that even in today's saber-tooth tiger challenged times, up to a point [needs not wants], our individual and family survival depends on having enough food, fuel, shelter to live.

From the opponents group, of which i am a proud member, the answer to the same query boils down to: Our existence, individual, familial and as a species is totally dependent on the web of life that underlies and supports us. That without the immeasurable and unaccounted for services that the web of life provides for us and every other part of the planet, economics is meaningless. Opponents' answers might deviate a bit too, some will say that if consumer driven extractive capitalism paid the full costs of its dastardly actions instead of being allowed to externalize them onto every species present and future there would be no debate about consumer comfort, any and all activity beyond that needed for survival would be recognized as the suicide it is.

So, IMO, when First Nations and other NGP pipeline opponents say "This Means War" they are talking about a far deeper 'war' than a political one. Yesterday Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, who is president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, told reporters and a huge crowd in downtown Vancouver that people are prepared to go to jail over this fight, "because that’s what it’s going to take. It’s official. The war is on,” Mr. Phillip told the crowd, rallying them to a path of protest ahead against the $7.9-billion pipeline between the Alberta oil sands and the B.C. coast. “There will be the need to go out onto the land and onto the waters and physically stop any effort on the part of Enbridge to do preparatory work, site preparation, surveying while this matter is in the courts,” said Mr. Phillip.“Some of us here are going to jail because that’s what it’s going to take.”

"We will defend our territories whatever the costs may be", said the alliance of 31 First Nations in their press release. And Mr. Mud is with them in body and spirit. i'll do everything i possibly can in word and deed to support the web life that this idiotic, short-sighted, self-centered scheme represents. But along with that i'll understand that Harper and all those others who support this scheme do so because that's how they honestly see the world. Harper represents a worldview opponents consider suicidal because we are all in this together.

When Harper stands up in Parliament and says his government's approval of the NGP is in accordance with the 'independent and scientific' review panel's recommendations he sees no contradiction because he and his fellow believers chose the panel members by choosing the bureaucrats that were tasked with choosing the individuals on the panel. Harper sees no contradiction to calling the panel's conclusions scientific just because he received a letter signed by over 300 hundred of scientists from around the world urging Harper and his government to reject a federal panel report from universities across Canada - Newfoundland to Vancouver Island -  along with colleagues from international institutions including Stanford, Cornell and Oxford.

Harper 'believes' that the world and its resources were put here by his "God" for the use of the chosen few. Harper 'believes' that we can do no lasting or meaningful harm to the biosphere because his "God" says so. i 'believe' Harper and those who agree with him are deluded and very dangerous to all of us humans and every living thing we share fair Gaia with.

6.16.2014

Jessica Ernst's Lawsuit Against EnCana + Alberta Govt. a Battle for Every Canadian's Charter Rights

Jessica Ernst on her land in Rosebud Alberta

Every Canadian resident owes their gratitude to landowner Jessica Ernst for standing up to EnCana and the Alberta government's regulators over the contamination of the water on her property in Rosebud Alberta. As her excellent and informative website explains, the landmark $33-million lawsuit alleges that industry activity including the hydraulic fracturing of shallow coal seams between 2001 and 2004 in central Alberta contaminated local aquifers with methane, making Ernst's water flammable.

For those who don't know much about Jessica's ongoing 6 year battle with Encana and the Alberta regulators, the timeline and details of her suit on her website are very educational, especially for others considering taking on the fossil fuel industry and its bought and paid for governments. Jessica's lawsuit isn't unique, hundreds of groups and individuals including first nations and local governments have launched suits before. In almost every case the lawyers representing the fossil fuel giants found some dubious arcane detail that the courts found in favor of.

But never before has the government itself intervened to successfully claim that their regulators were exempt from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada or the Bill of Rights in the U.S. But last year, Alberta's Chief Justice Neil Wittmann dismissed the claim against the Alberta energy regulator for negligence and breach of Charter of Rights.on the grounds that a statutory immunity clause excepted it from civil action and Charter claims. Ernst's lawyer Murray Klippenstein argued that no government or province can legislate themselves out of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Charter of Rights, on which Ernst's claim is based. He called the Charter "the supreme law of the land."

Isn't the reason why citizens in democracies have bills and charters of RIGHTS to defend themselves against the tyranny of their own governments? Of course, Jessica has supporters throughout the legal community including Ecojustice and Unanima International who named Jessica Woman of Courage for 2011. In addition, Jessica has the unanimous support of the environmental community - you know, all those of us that Harpo and his asshole henchmen like Joe Oliver call 'terrorists'. The Mud Report's last post asked, 'Who Are the Real Terrorists? The People Protecting the Land or the Fossil Fuel Corporations and Govt.?' From Jessica's story, the answer is clear.

But just to make the point about RIGHTS perfectly clear, today's headlines in The Calgary Herald '‘National disgrace’ explains that the Harpo regime, in response to Alberta First Nations suing the Harper government over drinking water, has broken it's promise and legislated liability protection for the government if citizens get sick or die from drinking water in an attempt to preempt the courts from ruling in favor of the First Nations. Canada's fossil fuel corrupted governments are both a National and an International disgrace.

Everyone, Canadian or not, owes their gratitude to landowner Jessica Ernst for standing up to the fossil fuel billionaire bullies and their bought and paid for tyrants in governments worldwide. Who are the real terrorists? They are those who undermine our liberty in the service of big money, those who pollute our commons in the service of their own avarice, those who terrorize every living thing in pursuit of more money, more power, more-more-more for the exceptional few.

6.13.2014

Who Are the Real Terrorists? The People Protecting the Land or the Fossil Fuel Corporations and Govt.?

Wet'suwet'en vow to keep all pipelines off their land

Toghestiy, a Wet'suwet'en blockader has been living at the Unist’ot’en Protest Camp beside the Morice River for over three years now. He spoke recently about the Harper and Clark governments criminalization of protest against the destruction of the scared land, water and air by attempting to label those who resist the fossil fuel corporations as terrorists. In his talk Unis’tot’en Camp member Dini Ze Toghestiy asks, "Who are the real terrorists? Certainly not the people working to protect the land."  Adding, "Indigenous land defenders are protecting their lands and communities from the terrorism of colonialism and industrial resource extraction."

The Unist’ot’en Camp is in Wet'suwet'en territory in northern BC on the route of the Pacific Trail Pipeline that threatens to bring fracked gas from the N.E. of B.C. to proposed LNG facilities around Kitimat. The Wet'suwet'en vow to keep all pipelines off their land.

Resistance to the un-natural gas industry runs coast to coast to coast in Canada, with many communities, of all types, united in solidarity on this crucial issue. "The pipeline would represent a quick dollar at the expense of destroying the land, water and people's livelihood," Unis’tot’en Camp member Dini Ze Toghestiy said. "And don't say 'natural gas.' There is nothing natural about fracking or the gas it produces."

In addition to the criminal abuse of non-renewable water that hydraulic fracturing [fracking] requires and the atmospheric destruction caused by the fugitive methane emissions that the Canadian governments refuse to study, the fracking/LNG/pipeline resistors are condemning the other health effects coming to light in recent studies as well as the legacy of toxic waste left behind by the out-of-control frackers.

Fracked Gas extraction produces a range of potentially health-endangering pollutants at nearly every stage of the process, according to a new paper by the California nonprofit Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy, in Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed journal published by the National Institutes of Health. “It’s clear that the closer you are [to a fracking site], the more elevated your risk,” said lead author Seth Shonkoff, from the University of California-Berkeley. “We can conclude that this process has not been shown to be safe.”

Citing the recent research, the report continues: "Shale gas development uses organic and inorganic chemicals known to be health damaging in fracturing fluids (Aminto and Olson 2012; US HOR 2011). These fluids can move through the environment and come into contact with humans in a number of ways, including surface leaks, spills, releases from holding tanks, poor well construction, leaks and accidents during transportation of fluids, flowback and produced water to and from the well pad, and in the form of run-off during blowouts, storms, and flooding events (Rozell and Reaven 2012). Further, the mixing of these compounds under conditions of high pressure, and often, high heat, may synergistically create additional, potentially toxic compounds (Kortenkamp et al. 2007; Teuschler and Hertzberg 1995; Wilkinson 2000). Compounds found in these mixtures may pose risks to the environment and to public health through numerous environmental pathways, including water, air, and soil (Leenheer et al. 1982). [...]."

Another recent U.S. federal study found that natural gas mining pollution in rural areas can increase the incidence of congenital heart defects among babies born to mothers living near wellsites. Easy to understand considering that more than 75% of the chemicals identified are known to negatively impact the skin, eyes, and other sensory organs, the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal system, and the liver; 52% have the potential to negatively affect the nervous system; and 37% of the chemicals are candidate endocrine disrupting chemicals.

The fucking fracking boom began in earnest in 2007 in Pennsylvania. The uproar by residents about flaming water coming out of their taps and the massive increase in earthquakes began almost immediately [as did the denial by industry of their reality]. By 2009 a study by Alberta scientists Stephan Bachu and Theresa Watson found that so-called "deviated wells" (the same kind right angling used for fracturing shale gas and tight oil formations) typically experienced leakage rates as high as 60 per cent as they age. Moreover "high pressure fracturing" increased the potential to create pathways to other wells, the atmosphere and groundwater. The health implications are serious. The migration of methane or fracking fluid has repeatedly contaminated groundwater across North America.

Despite repeated industry denials, geologists have known for years that various forms of hydrocarbon production, from drilling and pumping to injecting and fracturing, can cause man-made earthquakes. Experts call the phenomenon 'induced seismicity'. In B.C. the industry, which uses three times more water and often at higher pressures than other shale gas formations, set off more than 200 quakes in the Horn River Basin between April 2009 and Dec. 2011.

The Wet'suwet'en blockaders know that as Karlis Muehlenbachs, a geochemist at the University of Alberta, says, "With hundreds of thousands of new fracking wells expected to be approved here in Canada and millions more globally, fracking contamination will get worse not better."

Destruction and pollution of the non-renewable resources essential to every life form, birth defects, fugitive methane emissions so bad that mining fracked gas is even worse than either coal or tar sands crud for our already overloaded atmosphere. Why? So an already gluttonously rich few can have more money, so that consumers can continue consuming needless crap, so that in the very near future our children and grandchildren face the prospect of obliteration. Who are the real terrorists?  The people protecting the land or the fossil fuel corporations and the corrupt governments that support them?