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Spiked. BC Profs Protest after Publisher Drops Book on Canadian Mining

Spiked. BC Profs Protest after Publisher Drops Book on Canadian Mining

UNBC researchers’ book alleging wrongdoing in Guatemala was accepted, reviewed, then cancelled.

Two British Columbia university professors are accusing a major academic publisher of blocking scrutiny of Canadian mining companies by cancelling publication of their book.

“We have a responsibility to publicize what happened,” wrote University of Northern British Columbia geography professor and department chair Catherine Nolin and UNBC adjunct professor Grahame Russell in an open letter to Springer Nature. Russell lives in Toronto and runs UNBC field courses in Guatemala with Nolin.

Nolin and Russell co-edited Canadian Mining in the Aftermath of Genocides in Guatemala: The Violence, Corruption, and Impunity of Contemporary Predatory Mineral Exploitation. Russell is also a founder and director of the advocacy group Rights Action.

The book had passed peer review and was ready last February for publication, but after several months delay Springer Nature notified them that after a legal review it had decided to cancel their contract and return the rights to the manuscript to them. It cited libel concerns.

“They didn’t engage in any sort of tweaks,” Russell said in a Zoom call. “We didn’t think it would be five months of silence and then shut the door.”

Headquartered in Europe, Springer Nature publishes thousands of titles a year according to its website, as well as journals including Nature.

“A major theme addressed in the articles, testimonies and analysis that comprise our book is the endemic corruption and impunity with which the mining companies addressed in the book have, variously, been able to operate in Guatemala, with their Guatemalan economic and political partners,” Nolin and Russell wrote in their letter.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Keying off Tyee RCMP Revelations, MP Angus Wants an Investigation

Keying off Tyee RCMP Revelations, MP Angus Wants an Investigation

Exposé on Project Wide Awake web spying adds reasons to consider changing privacy law, Angus says.

Revelations in The Tyee’s recent report on the RCMP’s social media monitoring programs are “very concerning” and deserve investigation, says NDP MP Charlie Angus, a member of the Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics committee.

Angus said the Tyee report bolstered his sense that privacy laws may need changing to restrain police in how they use digital tools to spy on citizens.

Angus said he will be calling for a probe by the federal watchdog Office of the Privacy Commissioner into issues raised by The Tyee’s reporting.

Internal documents show the force used national security exceptions to keep advanced monitoring software from the public and discussed unmasking private friends lists on Facebook.

The Tyee also found the RCMP listed “private communications” and those related to “protests” in its definition of encrypted “Darknet” sources it targets with surveillance software — some of which remain redacted in contract documents.

Training documents for members of its Project Wide Awake web-spying program include a slide saying, “You have no privacy. Get over it,” and a section headed “social media surveillance” — a description the force previously disputed applies to its activities online.

The Tyee published the report Monday based on 3,000 pages of internal documents obtained from an access to information filed a year and a half ago.

“There’s a real question about oversight with the RCMP,” said Angus in response to the article. “If they were that fast and loose with so many basic principles of jurisprudence and justice, they could go much further. And that’s what I find very concerning.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

In the War on Climate Change, the BC Election Was a Bust

In the War on Climate Change, the BC Election Was a Bust

But the Sustainabiliteens and other youth committed to radical change will never give up.

For high school students and climate activists like us, British Columbia’s recent election wasn’t just about politics. It was about our futures: the 10 or so years we have left to prevent the worst of the global climate crisis. That doesn’t sound so long when you think of it as two or three election cycles.

We are both organizers with Sustainabiliteens, Metro Vancouver’s youth climate strike movement. We worked on campaigns this election because we believe in the power of political organizing to create change. We spent countless hours canvassing, flyering and phone banking — and now we have a chance to reflect on what the results mean for our generation and the future of the province.

First of all, this power-grab election should never have been called in the first place. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, not to mention a looming climate crisis — speaking of which, are we crazy or does the NDP really want to go ahead with Site C?

Suffice to say, an NDP majority wasn’t the result we wanted. Premier John Horgan found popularity not in spite of the BC Greens holding him accountable, but because of them. Honestly, we’re scared for what Horgan will do with absolute power. As we should be, considering his track record on climate action, as well as Indigenous sovereignty.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pipe Dream: Taxpayer-Owned TMX Is a Bust, Concludes Analyst

Pipe Dream: Taxpayer-Owned TMX Is a Bust, Concludes Analyst

Expect no Asian windfall for oilsands crude, says a new report by expert David Hughes.

Remember that 67-year-old pipeline and its controversial bitumen expansion project that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau bought from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion in 2018?

Well, a lot has happened since then.

For starters, the bitumen export project has climbed from a price tag of $7.8 billion to $12.6 billion and counting.

Meanwhile, a global pandemic has slowed the economy to a crawl and destabilized oil prices by bluntly curbing demand, probably for years.

The troubled oil industry, already reeling from global overproduction and crushing debt, is now actively contracting.

Cenovus and Husky, two of the five largest oilsands producers, just merged to save money by killing more than 2,000 jobs. Suncor axed another 2,000 employees. The so-called “economic engine of Canada” is shedding jobs, not making them.

As the world’s oil industry shrinks, prospects for global economic recovery seem remote if not problematic, because the world runs on oil.

China, the presumed market for Alberta’s heavy sour crude, has arrested two of our citizens, bullied our leaders and become a global exporter of technological tyranny.

And climate change, the topic everyone likes to endlessly talk about, continues to erode shorelines, burn forests, create refugees and undermine global security.

So does the world still need the Trans Mountain expansion project?

That’s the timely question David Hughes, one of the country’s foremost energy experts, deftly answers in his latest report for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

And the answer is a big fat no.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

LNG in BC Is a ‘Losing’ Bet, Report Finds

LNG in BC Is a ‘Losing’ Bet, Report Finds

New analysis calls out rosy job projections for industry ‘misleading’ and unrealistic.

A respected U.S. energy group has criticized a rosy Conference Board of Canada report championing more liquefied natural gas development in British Columbia as “a lobbying effort for government subsidies, support and flexibility.”

The scathing critique by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis characterized the Conference Board report as “misleading,” short on facts and unrealistic.

“The Conference Board, a non-profit economic research organization based in Ottawa, believes Asian, or more specifically, Chinese demand growth can sustain a further leap in British Columbian LNG capacity growth, despite corporate investors already folding their hands,” said the institute in its highly-critical paper.

The Ohio-based institute is funded by a variety of philanthropic organizations and examines issues related to energy markets, trends and policies. Its mission is “to accelerate the transition to a diverse, sustainable and profitable energy economy.”

The Conference Board’s July report, titled “Rising Tide,” estimated that if the government boosted LNG development to export 56 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas a year the industry would create 100,000 jobs based on an imaginary growth scenario.

“B.C. is becoming the focal point for a new Canadian industry — liquefied natural gas,” claimed the report, which failed to mention that 13 LNG projects have already been cancelled or suspended in B.C. and other parts of Canada due to bad economics, global oversupply and high extraction costs based on hydraulic fracturing.

At the moment, Shell’s LNG Canada is the only active project in B.C.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Indigenous Land Rights Action Blocks Northern BC Highway

Indigenous Land Rights Action Blocks Northern BC Highway

Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en members join day of action to support Ontario nation locked in conflict over development on its traditional territory.

Northern B.C.’s main highway was closed for more than an hour Friday evening as members of the Gitxsan Nation shut down traffic in a show of support for Indigenous rights actions across the country.

The blockade of Highway 16 in New Hazelton, between Smithers and Terrace, was part of a national day of action called for by Haudenosaunee Six Nations members fighting a residential complex on their traditional territory in southern Ontario. While about a dozen events took place in Ontario and Quebec, New Hazelton’s was the only one in Western Canada.

“Everything that’s been taken from us is connected to the land,” organizer Lorinda Campbell told close to 50 people who gathered in the rain at the New Hazelton visitor centre. “We are connected to the land.”

Drumming, singing and carrying signs and banners, the group moved from the visitor centre onto the highway shortly after 5 p.m., where they occupied a bridge in what organizer Hilary Lightening called “a strong message to the government.”

“The Haudenosaunee of Six Nations have issued a call for solidarity across Turtle Island. It’s akin to the same callout that we received from the Wet’suwet’en to shut down Canada,” Lightening said before the event. “What is happening in Canada is this criminalization of land defenders.”

The Haudenosaunee have been occupying a parcel of land on their traditional territory next to the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve in Caledonia, Ont., since July. The occupation is known as 1492 Land Back Lane, a reference to the year Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BC Hydro Bets on Interest Rates — and Loses $1 Billion

BC Hydro Bets on Interest Rates — and Loses $1 Billion

A hedging program was supposed to protect the corporation from rising rates. Instead, it’s creating major liabilities.

Critics are calling it another BC Hydro scandal. The Crown corporation, already beset by burgeoning costs and geotechnical difficulties at the controversial Site C dam, has racked up $1 billion of liabilities betting on interest rates.

BC Hydro revealed the losses in its first-quarter report, released in June.

Marc Eliesen, former CEO of BC Hydro and Ontario Hydro, said the corporation’s gamble that it could predict future interest rates has backfired. “BC Hydro took a trip to the casino and played roulette and lost big time,” he said.

The interest rate hedging program began in 2016 with the goal of protecting ratepayers from higher future borrowing costs if rates rose.

Under the program, BC Hydro bought investment vehicles that would increase in value if interest rates rose. The corporation’s managers believed the profits could be used to offset higher borrowing costs if, as they predicted, interest rates went up.

“They thought they would make money on interest rate hedges and put it in a default account which would help offset borrowing costs in the future,” explained Richard McCandless, a former civil servant who wrote about the loss on his blog.

Instead, interest rates fell, and BC Hydro has lost money on the hedging program.

“It is a scandal,” said McCandless. “They took a gamble and lost.”

BC Hydro, which carries $23.3 billion in debt, anticipates the need to borrow another $10 billion between 2017 and 2024, partly to pay for the over-budget Site C dam and about $2 billion a year in other capital projects.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BC Needs a ‘Wartime Approach’ to the Climate Emergency. And Now

BC Needs a ‘Wartime Approach’ to the Climate Emergency. And Now

The urgent response to the pandemic has shown us we can do it. We can’t dither another minute.

All of us who heed the warnings of climate scientists are increasingly alarmed as we stare at the harrowing gap between what the science says is necessary and what our politics seems prepared to entertain. Despite decades of calls to action, our greenhouse gas emissions are not on a path to stave off a horrific future for our children and future generations.

Case in point: The accompanying chart tracks British Columbia’s emissions going back to the year 2000. What is evident is that, in the face of the defining challenge of our time, our politicians are not rising to the task at hand.

582px version of GHG_Chart.jpg
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada: Tables IPCC Sector Canada.

Let this deeply disturbing chart sink in. And then let us all agree — political leaders, civil servants, environmental organizations, academics and policy wonks, labour leaders, socially responsible business leaders — that what we have been doing is simply not working. We have run out the clock with distracting debates about incremental changes.

But where it matters most — actual GHG emissions — we have accomplished precious little and have frequently slipped backwards. The most recent GHG data is from 2018, and B.C.’s new Clean BC climate plan was only introduced late that year, so it may yet show some progress. But our track record leaves much to be desired.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What Are Your ‘Ecological Virtues?’

What Are Your ‘Ecological Virtues?’

For example, are you performing ‘just acts,’ or just performing? A new book of essays invites readers to reflect.

As the tsunami of horrible news goes on and on, a few especially large icebergs managed to bob to the surface this week. One in particular proved hard to ignore, as a United Nations report revealed not one single global target has been met in terms of contending with the destruction of the natural world.

In the face of such grim information, what can one book offer?

A Book of Ecological Virtues: Living Well in the Anthropocene, published by the University of Regina Press and edited by Heesoon Bai, David Chang and Charles Scott, is a collection of essays. Most are from an academic perspective, and if you can battle your way past words like ontogeny and eudaimonia there are ideas and approaches to making one’s way in an insanely complex world.

It starts with the question: “What does living well look like in the Anthropocene?”

To answer, a variety of academics, poets and activists ponder how to cultivate a set of “eco-virtues,” described as, “a new set of values by which to live, if there is to be hope for us and other species to continue.”

So, what does that mean, exactly? And how do get from where we are to some new, different (better) place?

We human chatterboxes tend to fill the air, as well as the page, with all manner of wordy explanations, methodologies and plans. But sometimes simply shutting up is the answer.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Misinformation Was Always Dangerous. Social Media Has Turned It into a Viral Sickness

Misinformation Was Always Dangerous. Social Media Has Turned It into a Viral Sickness

Facebook’s reach is being used to create division, spread hate and harm democracy. And the corporation doesn’t care.

In 1486, a German priest named Heinrich Kramer published a manual called Malleus Maleficarum or the Hammer of Witches. Kramer wrote the book as an act of revenge following his expulsion from Innsbruck by the local bishop after he tried — and failed — to convict a woman he was sexually obsessed by of satanic practices.

Eventually reaching 30,000 copies, Kramer’s book detailed the theory and practice of witch persecution that catalyzed a frenzy of female torture throughout Europe and claimed at least 40,000 victims. History teaches us that indulging petty ignorance can be decidedly deadly, a lesson we ignore at our peril.

Dangerously dumb ideas of course continue today. Thousands recently took to the streets in Montreal and Vancouver to oppose mask mandates that could save thousands of lives. Many also proudly pledged their support for Donald Trump or QAnon conspiracies about a secretive cabal of Satan-worshiping elites who for some reason harvest the blood of children.

The world has always had whack jobs. However, the multiplier of social media has made spreading outlandish ideas ever more dangerous, especially at a time when there are plenty of other very real problems that demand our attention and action.

Cities on the West Coast choke in smoke from historic wildfires driven by accelerating climate change. Increasing human encroachment into the natural world propelled this pandemic, and others. Democracy in the world’s largest economy apparently hangs in the balance.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

If Trudeau Suddenly Looks Green, Here’s Why

If Trudeau Suddenly Looks Green, Here’s Why

Fossil fuels flagging, the economy demands reinvention. Expect a bold gamble of a throne speech.

Justin Trudeau’s imminent green gamble, casting the dice with long odds against rolling lucky eleven, is a risky move.

On Sept. 23, Trudeau will put his government, and his legacy, on the line with a throne speech. It faces a confidence vote. If the Liberals should lose that vote, the government would fall.

Then Canadians would be plunged into their first national campaign held during a pandemic, left to scratch their heads over myriad questions.

Who would the citizenry blame for sending them to the polls with COVID-19 still very much on the prowl?

How would newly minted CPC leader Erin O’Toole, a Harper retread, have a chance of winning? It doesn’t help that the convention that crowned him on national television looked like it was run by Curly, Larry, and Moe. Then there was that disingenuous victory handshake with Peter MacKay, the leadership rival O’Toole asked the RCMP to investigate as a thief. Worst of all, O’Toole is the invisible man of politics. Most voters wouldn’t recognize the new CPC leader if he were standing beside them at the bus-stop wearing an Erin O’Toole t-shirt.

Despite denials from party stalwarts, the NDP don’t have enough chips to even sit at the high-stakes poker table of a national election. How could Jagmeet Singh be competitive if the party can’t afford to lease a plane for their national leader, as was the case in 2019?

In that election, the NDP plunged from 44 seats in 2015 to a mere 24 in 2019, making them the fourth party in parliament behind the Liberals, Conservatives, and Bloc Québécois.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

‘They’re Trying to Take My House’

‘They’re Trying to Take My House’

A massive LNG project faces rising opposition in Oregon. The quiet backer is a Canadian firm.

For the past several years, Mike Williams has had hanging over his head the possibility that a Calgary oil and gas company could kick him and his family out of their home. The Pembina Pipeline Corporation is trying “to fuck me over,” he told The Tyee.

Williams, his wife Jane and their four-month-old daughter live on a rural property in southern Oregon with fir trees “you can wrap your arms around” and a rolling hill leading to a wetland. Several years ago, he started getting calls from Pembina asking him to sell the property. At first, he claims they offered him $78,000, which Williams considered an insult. That would barely allow him to purchase “a trailer in a mobile park,” he said. Then the offer apparently went up to $300,000.

Now Williams worries that the company will use eminent domain, whereby the government allows private property to be taken over for projects deemed in the public interest, to run a 36-inch natural gas pipeline through his drinking water supply and turn the home he built from salvaged materials into a staging area for the construction. “That’s the worst thing,” he said. “They’re going to let a Canadian company eminent domain a U.S. citizen. It’s wrong.”

That may be what’s happening in private. But in public, the pipeline’s defenders are telling a much different story — in fact, their strategy is to not even mention Pembina by name.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Big Oil’s Backers Are Jumping Ship — and That’s Good for the Planet

Big Oil’s Backers Are Jumping Ship — and That’s Good for the Planet

Investors, banks and even some oil and gas companies are breaking ranks on the future of high-emission energy.

The oil lobby’s political friends are melting away faster than an Alberta glacier. Every crack in that coalition is a foothold for a green and just recovery from the pandemic.

The latest sign was ExxonMobil being dropped from the Dow Jones Industrial Average on the same day that Storebrand, a major European investor, announced it was blacklisting the company over its anti-climate lobbying.

The Dow Jones Average is an index that tracks 30 large, publicly traded “blue chip” (read: financially sound) companies. Exxon and its predecessor companies had been part of the Dow Jones index since 1928, so that snub had to sting.

But Storebrand’s new climate policy is even more important.

The company is a major asset manager, with US$91 billion in investments. It announced that it would divest from companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron that are actively lobbying against the Paris Agreement or climate regulations.

“We are not only vulnerable to the systemic disruptions that climate change will unleash on ecosystems, societies and our own portfolio companies,” said Storebrand CEO Jan Erik Saugestad. “We also have a key role to play in accelerating the de-carbonization of the global economy.”

Storebrand also blacklisted companies that get more than five per cent of their revenues from coal or oilsands. Major investors like BlackrockDeutsche BankHSBC and the Norwegian Oil Fund have announced similar exclusions as they, too, reduce their exposure to fossil fuels.

Yet Storebrand has consistently been about five years ahead of its peers on climate action, so expect “no lobbying against climate policy” to become the new norm amongst mainstream investors.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Evil Geniuses: How the Rich Took Control of America (and Canada)

Evil Geniuses: How the Rich Took Control of America (and Canada)

Kurt Andersen looks at the not-so-secret conspiracy by the rich, right and big business.

They may have sentenced Leonard Cohen to 20 years of boredom for trying to change the system from within, but a whole generation of American conservatives were richly rewarded for doing just that.

As Kurt Andersen says in summarizing his own book, “Evil Geniuses chronicles the quite deliberate re-engineering of our economy and society since the 1960s by a highly rational confederacy of the rich, the right and big business.”

Canada, Britain and many other countries were pulled along in the Americans’ wake, though without quite the same awful results. Canada may be able to recover, but it will not be easy.

Andersen admits the re-engineering of America sounds like a great conspiracy theory. But he documents the efforts to transform the country meticulously and credibly.

That’s possible in part because the conspirators made no attempt to conceal themselves; on the contrary, the arch-conspirator was a famous corporate lawyer, Lewis Powell, who authored the memorandum that sparked the movement in 1971 and was soon after appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Taking the 1960s radicals more seriously than he should have, Powell argued for long-term changes that would further enrich the wealthy at the expense of workers and the middle class.

The memorandum was probably the single most influential American document since George F. Kennan’s “long telegram” of 1946, which set the terms of the Cold War that followed. Corporate leaders fell in behind Powell, and began to pour millions into think tanks, foundations and law schools — not to mention journalism scholarships to develop a new generation of right-wing pundits.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Positive Power of Emergencies

The Positive Power of Emergencies

Seth Klein discusses his new book on tackling the climate crisis like we’ve fought wars — and now the pandemic.

Seth Klein spends a lot of time thinking about emergencies. Earlier this spring, the former director of the B.C. office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives had just finished writing a book drawing lessons for fighting climate change from the country’s Second World War experience when the coronavirus hit. “Talk about awkward timing,” Klein recalls in A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency, which will be published on Sept. 1.

But Klein quickly realized that the global pandemic made his book’s central argument more relevant than ever. Whether it’s a war against Nazi aggression, a deadly and infectious virus or a climate emergency irreversibly changing our country, collective dangers require swift and transformative action. They are opportunities to overhaul conventional wisdom.

“Once emergencies are truly recognized,” Klein writes, “what seemed politically impossible and economically off-limits can be quickly embraced.”

In a recent interview with The Tyee about his forthcoming book, which is currently available for pre-order, Klein expands on that argument, explaining how Canada’s $250-billion response to COVID-19 has shattered mainstream conceptions about what’s feasible for climate action. He discusses what the Second World War can teach us about reducing social inequality in the face of a crisis, and the crucial role Indigenous people have played in both our wartime efforts and our current battles on climate change.

Geoff Dembicki: Where does the interest in WWII come from? Because it doesn’t seem like you’re that much of a war person.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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