Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lies and Syria

So the House has voted and the Con majority wins. RCAF pilots will now cross the Syrian frontier under questionable legal cover. Canada joins the US and a handful of Arab countries in a de facto alliance with brutal Syrian dictator in a civil war fighting an equally brutal and complicated collection of resistance forces. That the Conservatives brazenly lied to get us there is also telling.

Moreover, this most recent lie fits a consistent pattern of lying about Canadian military operations from Afghanistan, Russian aircraft and ships, and now Iraq and Syria.

Most of the recent lies appear designed to glorify and embellish the dangers faced by CF units. Now that the cupboardly man has ordered the RCAF over Syria, its pilots face a truly horrific fate if they have to eject for any reason (e.g. mechanical failure or SAM). What will the government say then?

What hell is wrong with these people?

You know, I'm half starting to think they've given up on government and are doing what a bunch of adolescent lads do when they sense they've pissed off the landlord and an eviction notice is coming -  trash the place: "Let's dig ourselves as deep as we can into the Syrian mess, just not table a budget, because that'll really fuck Trudeau and Mulcair and the rest of the public who has to clean up after us."

Friday, March 27, 2015

Flippantly digging

So, it seems the joke is on the Harper government, which is now writing a letter to the UN SecGen on the legal case for moving into Syria. Haha.

But seriously, the outstandingly flippant fratboy disregard for adhering to the bare minimum of legal requirements until someone drew their attention to it? 

People who operate that level that any decision involving military action is taken very seriously, no matter how preordained it might be given the various ideologies and rationales at play. I've seen them talk about it.

Our "government"? Yeehaw seems to be the only rationale for a bunch of men in suits, Harper chief among them, who will never let themselves be put at risk of being burnt alive in an ISIL cage, or hauled before the ICC.

Fate tends to have an unpleasant way of dealing with arrogant people who mock it. This will not end well. 

Budget mysteries

My guess? The math isn't doing what the Cons tell it to. Tough in an election year.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A major international war has just broken out

Syria, Iraq (with Iranian support), ISIL, Kurds and assorted internal factions and now Yemen with it's own complicated civil war with likely involvement from Iran, both meet a Saudi-dominated pan-Arab military coalition.  Libya has internal problems. Al-Shabaab, Horn of Africa. Boko Haram, Nigeria and other places, links with ISIL. Al-Qaeda is still in there somewheres. There is now effectively a war-zone that extends from northern Africa to Iran. The main fracture lines are Sunni-Shia Islam, Kurd-Arab-Persian, and state-to-state. Add to this that Israel just re-elected a leader who promises no peace with the Palestinians and another dimension could soon be added to this conflict.

Bets are off.

The West does not and cannot control how events unfold from here.

Canada's contribution will have no effect.

Incidently, consideration of international law now has no influence in how the Harper government employs the Canadian Forces. That part is actually a very serious problem for us and for the Canadian Forces. I'm no expert (Dave?) but I don't think this puts a Canadian commander (or their charges) ordering combat missions into Syria on firm legal ground. "Everybody else is doing it" has never been a legal defence.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

RCMP spying on climate change researchers?

This, via Creekside.
Tim Takaro, a health sciences professor at SFU, says he was having lunch in Tofino with his family on Wednesday when his daughter's cellphone rang.
When she answered it, she was told it was the Burnaby RCMP calling and they were looking for her father.
"I was very upset that he had called my daughter and that he was basically threatening, intimidating on the phone," says Takaro.
He says the officer asked him if he had recently had been taking photos near a Trans Mountain pipeline work site on Burnaby Mountain. They also told him they knew he had been to protest rallies that had taken place there a few months earlier.
A few days before, Takaro says he had been taking photographs along the Burnaby Mountain conservation trails when a guard at the nearby work site approached him and told him he couldn't take any photos.
From this we might deduce that the RCMP or CSIS  or some other agency, photographs people at rallies or protests, identifies them and compiles a database, and they (or perhaps private security from Kinder Morgan) puts them under surveillance and then intimidates them by calling his daughter's unlisted number. It's also probably fair to say than any scientist involved in climate change or environmental research is likely now under some kind of surveillance.

If you or I did this to someone, we'd have the RCMP on our doorstep. It's fucking creepy and no doubt highly traumatising for both Professor Takaro and his family.

No crime has been committed. No charges. Just a phone call that tells a much bigger story.  Such is the apparent extent of collusion between the fossil fuel industry, the Conservatives, and the security services.

Bill C-51 will permit the security forces much greater reach in disrupting people's lives than a phone call. We haven't seen anything yet.

They go after the intellectuals first, you know.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Outright Liars

Jason Kenney is a liar. So is his puppy, James Bezan. So says the commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2.

Kenney and Bezan are claiming a close encounter between HMCS Fredericton and Russian surface combatants and aircraft. Supposedly, they got that information from the commanding officer of Fredericton.

Not bloody likely.

There is a near zero chance that the captain of Fredericton sent anything but a factual report of a distant visual sighting of Russian ships and aircraft. To do otherwise would prompt Rear Admiral Brad Williamson, commander SNMG2, to boot HMCS Fredericton to a safe area, well away from any activity. Excitable frigate captains who embellish contact reports are not an asset in such situations - they are an extreme liability.

The fact that HMCS Fredericton remains on station with SNMG2 is solid evidence that the ship is performing and reporting in accordance with the well-practiced doctrine established by the officer in tactical command.

That makes Kenney, Bezan and anybody who repeats their words, liars.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

At the going down of the sun...

With respect and condolences to the family and friends of Sergeant Andrew Joseph Doiron, Canadian Special Operations Regiment, Petawawa, Ontario.



There was a sign on an office door at one of my universities that stated "Nothing destroys a beautiful hypothesis like an ugly fact." This is where we are in Canada right now.

The crude hypothesis the current government saw was that great mass of oil and gas sitting under Alberta (and a few other places) was going to make everyone rich. They looked at the numbers, talked to their corporate buddies, and everyone went into paroxysms of excitement because Canada was going to be an energy superpower and the future would be sunshine and lollipops for the people the Conservatives think matter. The reasoning was very simple: 1. Canada  has a lot of oil. 2. Oil is worth a lot of money. 3. [Insert Tony Montana quote here]

The ugly fact or facts are: Canadian oil is locked up in sand underneath the boreal forest, or at the bottom of the Arctic or North Atlantic. It is difficult and absurdly costly to extract and only makes money if the street price of oil is steep. Think of it this way. In Saudi Arabia, you can have a nice time getting a suntan whilst you stick a spigot into the ground to get the oil. In Canada, you have to deal with blackflies, mosquitos, ice and snow and use giant machines to strip away hectares and hectares of trees and soil, all of which impose costs. The other ugly fact, is that we're just getting serious about the oil business when the rest of the world is moving on because science shows oil to be  extremely hazardous to the planetary health. Naturally, the trepanated contrarian geniuses in the Conservative Party are doing the equivalent of investing in big tobacco after the cancer link was demonstrated.

So instead of looking at the facts and thinking about other ways the capitalising on Canada's capacities, the current government has doubled down on the oil sector. However, to do this, they have to criminalise reality and corrupt national institutions. The Cons, oil-bidness, the RCMP and CSIS all appear to be in bed together desperately trying make a go of the Tar Sands. "Anti-petroleum activists" are now potential terrorists lumped-in with fanatical mass-murderers. It's insane of course, as these guys are hell-bent on wrecking the country in pursuit of what is basically a very bad investment decision. It also suggests the POTUS is now on a Canadian watch-list, given that he's openly calling Canadian oil filthy and disgusting? Good-luck with that.

As I said before, they do not get that there is simply no win for them here. Renewable energy is at or near cost parity with oil, almost every other country in the world is working towards massive reductions in fossil fuel use because climate change. Canada will be reduced to selling dime-barrels of shitty product in global back-alleys, while our furious leader is holed-up in a cupboard at 24 Sussex and his remaining loyalists are outside making a last ditch stand against reality.