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Politics and its Discontents: Meanwhile, South Of The Border

Ah yes, that land whose political representatives make our elected reprobates look like shining exemplars. For this edition of The Dark Side, we return to the ongoing saga of Gordon Klingenschmitt (a.k.a. Dr. Chaps), recently elected as a Republican State Legislator in Colorado.

A man with many demons (which he regularly exorcises), in this edition he exploits explores a tragedy wrought by the ‘demonic spirit of murder’ that, it seems, has provoked God’s judgement:

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Babel-on-the-Bay: If there is Will, he will find a way.

Not being a regular reader of the Washington Post, we might not have read many columns by George F. Will. It was only when Toronto’s National Post picked up one of his commentaries last weekend that we had the fun of trying to figure out how his mind works—or maybe does not. What appeared to start out as a mindless Republican tarring of America’s first black President, was found to include some mindless repetition of TransCanada Pipelines’ news releases.

This guy Will must be a staunch anti-environmentalist. Yet he has the temerity to say about President Obama that “his mind (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: A friendly note to the American Congress.

Hey you jerks, please do not do that for us. We do not want the Keystone XL pipeline either. Canadians who care are firmly against any pipelines that try to pump bitumen to the sea. That tar sands stuff is three times as polluting as West Texas crude oil. Why in hell would you want to promote faster global warming?

We hate to tell you this but President Obama is right. There is no profit for America to allow that atrocity by TransCanada Pipelines across the United States. There are no long term jobs. There are some royalties to landowners (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: That was another good year.

The New Year came and went and it was such a busy time for political comment that we missed commenting on the past year. And that year needs a look. Babel-on-the-Bay set some records. Readership is up. In 365 days, there were 365 commentaries. Other sites are asking for our commentaries. Others send us readers. The numbers are confusing because so many of you are frequent flyers. This blog is fun but on the occasional cold day, it can also be onerous.

But the record continues. Babel-on-the-Bay called the shots on every election of interest to us last year. The (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Which twin has the Toni?

During a career in public relations in Canada, you kept an eye on what was happening in PR south of the border as well as the Canadian market. You always wanted to be aware of what firms were doing for their clients. A firm watched over the last 60 years was started by the late Daniel Edelson who opened a firm with his name on it in Chicago in 1952. One of Dan’s first clients was Toni Home Permanents for whom he had previously worked. His most noted accomplishment for Toni was the strategy of doing media tours throughout the (Read more…)

reeves report: Hamburg, Illinois man charged selling live Asian carp

A HAMBURG, ILLINOIS man has been charged with possession and distribution of live bighead and silver carp, a felony under United States law.

On October 7, 2014, Randall E. Watters was arrested and charged in Calhoun County in the state’s southwest for the unlawful possession and sale of more than 1,800 pounds of Asian bighead and silver carp.

Location of Hamburg, Illinois. (Google Maps)

Watters was charged with the Unlawful Sale of a Live Injurious Species which is a Class 3 felony. It carries a penalty of two to five years imprisonment followed by a year of mandatory supervised release, (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: The Bully Pulpit of the Paul’s.

This is not the Apostle Saint Paul under discussion here. Libertarian extremists Ron Paul and his son Randal Paul are something else. The senior Paul is still the cantankerous fanatic who took his pre-Tea Party Libertarian followers to seek the American Presidency in 1988 and tried in both 2008 and 2012 to win the Republican presidential nomination. While the older Paul is almost retired from politics at 78, his son “Rand” is readying for a presidential bid in 2016 from his Senate seat for the State of Kentucky. What is frightening about it is the highly sophisticated use of the (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: There are liars and damn liars.

The Woodrow Wilson Institute based at the Smithsonian in Washington is an honoured institution recognizing the only American President to have earned a PhD. It seems a shame that its name is being besmirched by the cant of the tar sands exploiters and the sham of Prime Minister Harper’s energy policy. This commentary is instigated by a Toronto Star opinion piece on July 17 saying Canada must diversify its energy pitch to the U.S. It is by Andrew Finn program associate at the Canada Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Institute.

The first (complex) sentence of the article is all (Read more…)

reeves report: Fracking impact report due early May

Fracking well in USA.

A panel report on the potential environmental impacts of shale gas exploration, extraction and development in Canada has been finalized but will not see the light of day until after May 1, 2014.

In 2011, then federal Environment Minister Peter Kent asked the Council of Canadian Academies—an independent, not-for-profit supporting evidence-based expert assessments—to surmise the “state of knowledge” on shale gas development in Canada, the “associated mitigation options” and investigate what environmental impacts could occur from its expansion.

“Extraction of this resource has become more cost-effective in recent years, in part due to advances in (Read more…)

reeves report: NEB finds compliance issues with TransCanada’s environmental protections

A series of five extensive audits of TransCanada Pipelines Management Program by the National Energy Board came back with only minor issues the regulator is asking the energy giant to iron out.

TransCanada pipeline.

“NEB audits proactively identify those aspects of a company’s management system that are working well along with those that need to be improved,” said Gaétan Caron, the Chair and CEO of the NEB in a written statement. “This process of continual improvement moves industry closer to achieving the Board’s target of zero incidents.”

Earlier this week, the energy board made public a series of (Read more…)

reeves report: Canada-Ontario Agreement targets aquatic invasives in Great Lakes

Beefing up protections against aquatic invasive species like Asian carp has taken a prominent place in the latest Canada-Ontario Agreement (COA) governing how both governments aim to work together on protecting the Great Lakes.

Asian carp in U.S. water.

“Aquatic invasives have altered Great Lakes ecosystems and caused significant disruptions to many of the benefits those ecosystems provide to Canadians,” the agreement states. “The continued introduction of AIS is one of the most significant threats to biodiversity in the Great Lakes.”

Queen’s Park and Ottawa released a draft copy of the eighth such agreement to be signed since (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Is the White House burning?

The last time Canada and the United States went to war on some pretext, our British troops went to Washington and set fire to the White House. That was 200 years ago. The current campaign against the American capitol is being run by the Ottawa office of a communications company called Fleishman-Hilliard. In a time of false austerity in Ottawa, this company has a pot of Canadian gold to win the hearts and minds of U.S. law-makers to the side of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Why Canadian taxpayers are funding this campaign is a question for another time. The (Read more…)

the reeves report: Reports question NEB’s approval process for Northern Gateway and Line 9 pipelines

Enbridge under fire as opponents of controversial pipeline projects worry the Canadian energy giant will be ill-prepared to handle potential ruptures throughout Southern Ontario and on B.C.’s rugged coast.

Opponents of Enbridge’s Line 9B pipeline in Southern Ontario are scrambling in the wake of its tentative approval earlier this month by the National Energy Board to highlight just how dangerous overhauling the 38-year-old, 639-kilometre pipeline could be for flora and fauna alike.

Approximately 100 protesters, First Nations members, students and concerned citizens gathered on the front lawn of Queen’s Park in Toronto the day after the NEB’s ruling (Read more…)

the reeves report: U.S. energy called on to help West handle Russia

America should rethink overhauling energy export policy in favour of ‘drill, baby, drill’ simply to flex muscle against Russia over Crimean play.

Can boosting U.S. energy exports help declaw the prowling Russian bear?

In the weeks following President Vladimir Putin’s military expansion into Ukraine’s Crimean region, manipulating U.S. energy sources – the full spectrum of oil, natural gas and coal, in addition to alternative energy – has been thrown about as a possible way to demonstrate American resolve in standing up to foreign aggression overseas.

Enter energy. Veteran New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wondered aloud last week (Read more…)

the reeves report: Separate Great Lakes from Mississippi River to contain Asian carp: study

A recent study led by the University of Notre Dame and the U.S. Forest Service confirmed that hydrologically separating the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River watershed would be 95 to 100 per cent effective at containing Asian carp.

“Our study goes beyond just presenting barrier options by putting numbers to how effective various barriers will be, including hydrologic separation and the currently operating electric barrier system,” said report author Marion Wittmann of the University of Notre Dame.

“Authors have theorized that invasive species prevention is more cost-effective than control in protecting ecosystem services,” the report states.

The human (Read more…)

the disgruntled democrat: Inequality Is What America Is All About

Change you can believe in. Yeah right.  There are some things that never change and one of them is the tendency for the rich to get richer at everyone else’s expense, especially in America. Since the onset of the Great Recession in 2008, 95% of the gains have gone to the top 1%, and during the same time period the median income has dropped. It would appear that within this context the inequality of income should be the major concern of the political class.

No way.  Not in the US of A, where more than half of the members (Read more…)

the reeves report: Congress considers hydrologic separation to contain Asian carp

A bill from Michigan Representative Candice S. Miller tabled Wednesday with Congress would authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consult, plan and build a barrier to hydrologically separate the Mississippi and Great Lakes watersheds in one year following its passage.

“I believe total separation is the only way to make sure that Asian carp do not enter the Great Lakes,” Miller said in a statement on her website following the introduction of the bill. “This project will require the buy in of stakeholders from across the country and significant resources, but we must have the political will (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Revving up the Keystone pipeline controversy.

It is called doublespeak. Bureaucrats use it to leave themselves open to whatever their political bosses prefer to do. They have not said yes and they have not said no. The American State Department issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement on the last day of January and leaves everyone in the same state as they were before it was issued. All the State Department functionaries did was get it out and get it done with as far as they were concerned. Like the Oracle at Delphi though you will learn that their findings are whatever you want them to be.

(Read more…)

the reeves report: Canada must help U.S. pay to contain Asian carp

Canada has an obligation to help the United States pay for physically separating Lake Michigan and the entire Great Lakes basin from the Mississippi River watershed to contain the spread of Asian carp, though the cost may reach $18 billion or more.

The latest report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released Monday found preventing the aquatic invasive species Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes could cost upwards of $18 billion over 25 years if the most expensive control option is chosen by American lawmakers.

After having spent years studying the growing problem of controlling the aquatic (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: JFK

Fifty years ago today in Dallas, history was literally changed by a hail of bullets. It was before my time, but my parents were teenagers at the time and they recalled it vividly – JFK’s assassination caused grief in Canada too.

It might be said that the JFK assassination started the long decline in American politics – the escalation of Vietnam and the subsequent divisions over that, then Watergate. American politics hasn’t been particularly the same since JFK. We all know by now that JFK certainly wasn’t perfect, but one wonders what would have happened if he had remained alive (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Watching the events down south

First off, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. In my family’s household, the tradition is to hold the big turkey dinner on the Sunday and make turkey soup from the leftovers on Monday… and that tradition continues today.

Today.. I’ve been following the budget events in the US on their “Columbus Day” with interest. It appears that the not-so-crazy Republicans in the Senate are desperately trying to find a face-saving measure with the Senate Democrats, trying to avoid a US default on this Thursday – a default caused by the far-right in the House of Representatives egged on by a couple of (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Obamacare: why far-right Republicans are trying to stop it

They aren’t trying to stop it by shutting down the US Government because of the devastation and damage it will bring to the US, as their hyperbole claims (never mind that the conservative Heritage Institute advocated this type of setup in the 90′s and former Mass. governor and last Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney DID institute this kind of setup in Massachusetts, and by all accounts it works very successfully), they’re trying to stop it because they’re afraid Americans will get on the health exchanges and pass along more stories like this one sample of a few stories there from (Read more…)

Writings of J. Todd Ring: US government shutdown, and other fairy tales and political theatre

I’m not sure what to make of the hoopla going on in the US right now. I’m inclined to think it’s all just political theatre, as Gerald Celente calls it, designed to distract the people from the real issues – the central one being, who controls the government and the nation? Wall Street, the big […]

Writings of J. Todd Ring: The deeper reasons for the “war on drugs”

There is a deeper reason for the war on drugs, which is the central reason for the policy, even outweighing profits from private prisons and seizure of property by law enforcement officers, both of which no doubt are also significant and strong motivations for keeping the “war on drugs” going. Nearly thirty years ago, Chomsky […]

Babel-on-the-Bay: Harper’s friends form formidable phalanx.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has interesting friends. As the Prime Minister said in New York the other day, neither he nor his friends take ‘No’ for an answer. It was bad enough when we were ridiculing him and Jim Flaherty for lionizing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. It is less than funny when you learn who Harper has lobbying in Congress for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to send Alberta bitumen to the Texas Gulf seaports. Harper’s best friend selling the tar sands pipeline is none other than Texas Senator Ted Cruz. This is the guy who recently provided a (Read more…)