Sunday, September 30, 2007

Softwood Sell Out

Say it ain't so...

In its rush to smooth relations with the U.S. government, Canada's newly elected Conservative government sold out the country's forestry industry when it signed the softwood-lumber agreement, even though legal victory in the long-festering dispute was only months away, a leading softwood lawyer contends in a blistering new commentary.

"The [Canadian] government didn't care about lumber," said Elliot Feldman, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who represented Ontario's forest industries before the softwood agreement was made last April. "The government cared about its foreign-policy agenda with the United States and wanted to clear this out of the way. That's all that mattered."

In his paper, to be published in a coming issue of the Journal of International Trade Law and Regulation, he details how Canada abandoned a round of litigation whose "end was more than in sight. It was imminent."

Had Canada stuck with the various cases underway, it would have seen, at worst, all but 2.11% of the U.S. duty stricken by August, 2006, and the already-collected duties -- a total of about US$5.5-billion, including interest -- returned by November, 2006, he argued.

Instead, he said, the Canadian government agreed to allow the U.S. industry to hold on to $1-billion of the duties -- $4.4-billion was repatriated -- and create a regime in which Canadian lumber exporters now face a punishing export tax and quotas that have further crippled profits already hamstrung by 15-year-low lumber prices and the soaring loonie.

And that one billion allegedly went into Republican election coffers via the White House.

The bribe failed and the U.S. government is again taking Canada to the international court of arbitration over the new agreement. Using that one billion to pay for it.

One of the provinces named in the suit is Alberta, Harpers home base. And in fact Alberta producers have not benefited from the softwood deal. The irony would be delicious if it wasn't pathetic.

Beaten down by poor markets, low prices, dollar parity, continuing disputes with the U.S. over softwood lumber and the mountain pine beetle, Morton said the forestry sector is in "the perfect storm" of economic woe.
How bad is the softwood deal for the rest of Canada's producers? It too is part of a perfect storm.

One of Canada's biggest lumber exporters, Tembec Inc. (TSX: TBC), has temporarily pulled all its lumber from sale in North America because of falling prices and the surging Canadian dollar. In addition, Canadian lumber faces an export tax when it crosses the border into the United States, a measure imposed a year ago by the Canadian government to settle a longstanding softwood lumber dispute with the United States.

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Taliban Karzai

Well, well, once again it appears that the NDP has had the right policy towards Afghanistan all along.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has offered to meet personally with Taliban leader Mullah Omar and another top insurgent for peace talks.

Something Karzai would have told Parliament if his speech had not been ghost written for him by the Department of Defense. They took particular pains to single out the NDP for criticism in support of their Kandahar operations.

He also took direct aim at NDP Leader Jack Layton's opposition to the war, saying that those who believe the mission was weighted too heavily toward combat and not enough toward reconstruction were wrong.
And while Peter Mackay's office denies it the facts at the time bear it out. Because Layton met Karzai and they discussed peace talks.

The irony is that while Jack promotes peace talks, and is blasted for it being called Taliban Jack, Harper actually has hung out with Warlords connected to the Taliban.

One Blogging Tory tries to spin the bad news this way;

The Difference Between NDP Surrender & Afhganistan Democracy

Once again providing disinformation by generalization; that the NDP is calling for withdrawal from Afghanistan. Which it isn't. Its calling for withdrawal from Kandahar with reduced forces stationed in Kabul doing peace keeping.

And actually would it be any different in Afghanistan if the Taliban were part of parliament? He asked tongue in cheek.

A woman casts her ballot © Joint Electoral Management Body Secretariat/Marie Frechon
A woman casts her ballot in Afghanistan’s
September 18, 2005, election, for which
Canada provided support.

Afghan voters elected the members
of the Wolesi Jirga (lower chamber
of the National Assembly) and
representatives of 34 provincial councils.

Also See:



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Job Protection for

Canadian Reservists

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Harper On Executive Power.

Stephen Harper had a wonderful laid back speech and Q and A in New York this week at the Council on Foreign Relations. Another ruling class group in America, who some claim really runs the world.

The question and the answer it elicits reveals Harper as using his position as PM , equating it with American Presidential executive power , to change Canada's fifty years of 'Liberal' foreign policy. While being a minority government! The media focused on the first paragraph of what he said here, the second is far more revealing.

QUESTIONER: Unfortunately, not my question. My name is Kate Kroeger. I'm with the American Jewish World Service. And my question for you, Prime Minister, is a broad one. Do you think that in Canada you're entering the era of minority government? And if so, what do you think the implications are for Canada projecting and executing a coherent foreign policy?

HARPER: Well, Canada now has had two minority governments in a row. If the various conservative parties had been united over the past 14 years, which they weren't until recently, we would have had minority government over that entire period as well. So I think with the current political alignment -- I'm probably not supposed to say this, my election strategist won't like it -- but with the current political alignment, I think the possibility of minority government at any election, including one in the near future, would loom very high.

Does it affect Canada's foreign policy? You know, in terms of the day-to-day setting of priorities and taking of positions on the world stage, not very directly, because quite frankly, this is largely under executive authority. I may be criticized in Parliament for it, but in most cases, if I can make my case to the Canadian people, I can pursue, you know, an aggressive or well-defined foreign policy. And I don't think our government, on anything from the Middle East to -- you know, to Afghanistan to climate change, has had any hesitation in taking well-defined stands and stands that are sometimes highly criticized in Parliament itself.

The opposition parties represent the majority of Canadians while Harpers government represents the minority.

Ironically he goes on to say this.

One of the problems in pre-democratic or non-democratic societies is that the political culture of leaders of all factions is aimed at total and complete domination forever. And you don't just -- you know, you don't just win an election; you then figure out how you're going to wipe out your opposition for good, you know, through any means necessary. And I'm concerned about this. I'm concerned that as Western nations, we don't fully understand this.

And you know, I think we often rush into certain types of democratic processes in non-democratic societies where the outcome will not be a free and democratic society. The outcome will be the majority outvoting the minority or some group, you know, and I've -- if I can speak bluntly, thinking of Hamas and Hezbollah, who see the vote as only one of a number of tools to pursue their political objective, not as a commitment to the democratic process inherently.

A criticism which could equally apply to Harper and his pals. Kettle, pot, black.


Harpers War Costs Another Canadian Life

A Contient of Children

John Harper Stephen Howard

APEC Is Not Kyoto

Tory Transparency: GNEP

Silence is Acquiescence

CIDA Funds Child Labour In Afghanistan

Jelly Bean Summit

Conspiracy Theory or Ruling Class Studies

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Blogs Left and Right Unite

Over Burma and the Saffron Revolution.

On those rare occasions something happens in the world of realpolitik that despite our differences the left and right in the Canadian political blogosphere unite over. In this case it's the peaceful protests in Burma and the Junta's over the top might is right response.

Our shared belief in the 'liberal' values of freedom, liberty,democracy, and human rights are affronted by the actions of these tin pot tyrants and call for our protests in solidarity.

Blogging Tories Comment:

The Monks' revolution
2007-09-26 06:52:52

Burma death toll may be ‘far greater’ than reported:

Dr Roy's Thoughts: Free Burma!!!!!


Silent About Burma

The military dictatorship in Burma must be overthrown...a comment from Vaclav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic.

Progressive Bloggers Comment.



'Support The Monks' Protest in Burma' - Facebook Group Growing Massively

Soldiers fire into crowds of protesters in Burma - Now is the time for Canada to stand up and support the protestors!

Canadian Demonstrators Protest Violence Against Monks and Civilians In Burma

Unfortunately there is a dirth of comment from the right on Burma.

Guess they had a busy week interpreting Harpers public political pontifications in the Big Apple, and reading the entrails from a week of bleeding internal Liberal Party Ides of August, etu brute and dealing with Afghanistan President Karzai's new pals; The Taliban.

Progressive Bloggers have way more comments, two pages worth. Way more than from the right who claim to be the patrons of freedom and liberty.


Blogging Burma

Myanmar Ghost Dance

No Reincarnation Without Permission

The Road Out of Mandalay

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More Oil Whiners

One of Canada's Oil giants, a financial and political backer of both the Conservative Party provincially and federally, threatens a capital strike. Hoping to make Farmer Ed fill his boots.

In the latest salvo in a thundering barrage of industry criticism, Canadian natural gas and oil sands giant EnCana Corp. [ECA-T]says it will slash its investment in Alberta by up to 40 per cent or $1-billion next year if the province fully implements recommendations to sharply boost royalties contained in a recent review by an independent panel.

"If the Royalty Panel's recommendations are adopted in full, many of Alberta's new and emerging resource plays will simply not be economically viable," EnCana chief executive officer Randy Eresman said in a news release issued before stock markets opened Friday.

And another Alberta right wing rump party chimes in defending big oil in opposition to the peoples interests. Unlike Link Byfield's would be WildRose Party, which also opposes any royalty changes, the Alberta Alliance actually has a seat in the legislature.

And though they agree that the government has used 'Third World accounting' ( a euphemism for money laundering) for over a decade, which has lost us royalties already supposedly paid, they offer no solutions. Rather like the rest of their ilk, they say its fine to sell out our resources at below bargain basement prices for the good of Big Oil.

Alberta Alliance Response to the Report of the Royalty Review Panel.

Alliance Recommendations

1. Before it even considers royalty changes, the government needs to get its current royalty house in order
. One of the findings of the panel often ignored in the media was that the government's understanding and maintenance of the current royalty system is incomplete and flawed. Evan Chrapko, one of panel members has been quoted as saying about the current royalty accounting structure, "we have record-keeping that works for Third World countries in the 1960s." This need to be rectified before we can move forward.

4.After consultation and with contribution from industry, increase oil sands royalties on the front end by 1% in a progressive four year phase-in. When fully phased in, this would result in an increase of $292 million per year by 2010 and $438 million per year by 2016 when bitumen production will have risen to three million barrels per day (based on $40 per barrel bitumen.) The phase in period will give industry proper time to adjust for the increased burden. The 1% would continue after projects payout as well, in essence be a Gross Overriding Royalty.

Ho Hum that is exactly what is occurring now so this is a non-recommendation.

Don't Let Big Oil Set Our Royalty Rates make sure Ed hears from you.


Fearless Prediction Confirmed


More Shills For Big Oil

Stelmach Sells Out

This Is What Alberta Democracy Looks Like

Link Byfield Goes AA

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Fearless Prediction Confirmed

My prediction that Alberta CEO Prince Edward would sell Albertans out over the Royalty Review is confirmed from a couple of sources.

From the EnerPub Blog:

Alberta premier Ed Stelmach is expected to decide how much of the report’s recommendations to implement by the middle of October. There is considerable public pressure to increase royalties. However, Alberta’s oil lobby also has significant political influence because of the oil and gas sector’s large contribution to the economy. And the government will be loathe to jeopardize the future of an industry that accounts, directly and indirectly, for about half the province’s GDP.
The likely outcome, therefore, is a more modest increase than the panel recommends.

Edmonton Sun columnist and usually an Ed booster; Neil Waugh weighs in worrying that given his track record the man who would be king might well cop out.

There's one compelling and disturbing thing about the Alberta government's royalty review.

And that's where Premier Ed Stelmach exactly stands on clawing back the oil, gas and, in particular, oilsands royalties and restoring what Bill Hunter's royalty review panel calls "our fair share."

The premier talked tough a few days ago when he said, "I won't be intimidated" by the powerful Big Oil lobby.

However, he hasn't actually said in plain Ralph Klein English what large numbers of Albertans now expect him to say: Alberta's royalty rates must go up.

The premier's office cranked out a release saying that instead of finally revealing where Ed stands on royalties, the Tories now want to "open communication channels" with the oil industry. While government bureaucrats will conduct a "technical analysis" review of the Hunter panel's recommendations to boost the royalty take by at least $2 billion.

Fears that the PCs were now in full retreat went from bad to extreme when it was revealed who is conducting the "shared understanding" with the oilpatch fat cats.

Justice Minister Ron Stevens, next to Dave Hancock, is the softest target in Stelmach's cabinet.

And instead of the finance department running the numbers, the energy bureaucrats - the same guys who messed up in the first place - will be marking Bill Hunter's homework.

Don't Let Big Oil Set Our Royalty Rates make sure Ed hears from you.



More Shills For Big Oil

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"We are not morons" was the screaming front page headline in the Edmonton Journal yesterday

Alberta's royalty review panel fired back Wednesday at industry critics of its report, arguing its call to hike energy royalties by 20 per cent is reasonable by global standards and based on sound data provided by the oilpatch itself.

Since issuing its report to the Stelmach government last week, the panel led by former Al-Pac president Bill Hunter has been accused by some in the energy sector and investment community of basing its report's controversial conclusions on flawed math that doesn't reflect reality. Hunter and fellow panelists said the industry's arguments distort the real picture as they see it.

"We're not a bunch of morons, as is indicated by some of the folks who are fighting against us," Hunter said in a group interview with Journal columnists and reporters Wednesday.

Nope they aren't morons, but the guys in the Tired Old Tory government are as another report showed today.

The provincial government sat on a report for seven years that outlined massive failures in policing its $100-million-a-year farm fuel benefit program, before similar concerns were raised by Alberta’s auditor general in 2006.

Now it must explain how Albertans can be sure the almost $1-billion spent on the program in that time was used wisely, said Liberal critic Hugh MacDonald.

Auditor General Fred Dunn said last year the process “does not verify the information in application forms before issuing a certificate” for the program, which gives farmers a six-cents per litre deduction on diesel, and eliminates the tax on both diesel and gas the government would normally get.

“Nor does it have any other processes to ensure that only eligible individuals get certificates -- or to identify people who became ineligible,” Dunn wrote, adding that the “department has not completed a renewal process or requested confirmation of eligibility from registrants since 1997.”

But the government did produce an audit of the renewal process -- one year later, in 1998. And the 10-page document outlined identical concerns to the auditor’s in 2006, which themselves came three years after Dunn declared the program “high risk”.

Which is what the Royalty Review also said, that the Government lost $8 billion in royalties paid. It went somewhere but nobody knows where or if it was even collected.

It's a joy to watch capitalists tarred with the same brush as the left by Big Oil. Of course the facts back the Royalty Review board not the Petro Bullies.

In 2006, Alberta's top five energy firms alone earned more than $17 billion. That's twice the province's 2007 budget surplus, and eight times the $2-billion annual hike in royalty fees called for by a government-appointed review panel.

Drillers complain that their sector -- already hit by low natural gas prices and a surplus of rigs -- would be decimated if the report is implemented.

But panel members stress that 82 per cent of conventional natural gas wells, and 57 per cent of conventional oil wells, would actually see royalty rates decline, based on 2006 prices.

Report finds Alberta still a bargain, even with higher royalties

Higher oil sands royalties could cut 13 per cent of the value from current and planned projects around Fort McMurray, but Alberta would remain one of the cheaper places to do business in the world even with more money going to government, according to research by British energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

Of 100 fiscal regimes around the world analyzed by Wood Mackenzie, money paid to government in the oil sands is ranked as the 11th-most generous system for industry. Should higher royalties and taxes be instituted, the ranking would fall to 44th, still in the top half.

Canada’s oil nationalism

Sudden change in fiscal regimes is bad for planning. Yet it is hardly surprising that a resource-rich government wants a bigger slice of the pie when oil is topping $80 a barrel. At an estimated 64 per cent share of the value of oil sands projects, Alberta’s “take” would remain moderate compared with the likes of Venezuela and Russia. And the Canadians are at least being upfront about simply wanting a bigger cheque, rather than hiding behind professed environmental concerns.

The biggest impact would come from an increase in the royalty on production after initial investment has been recovered, hitting operators with projects already up and running. The value of projects still in the investment phase should suffer less, as the affected cash flows are further in the future. Rather cynically, the proposals largely preserve the attraction for new developers, while milking existing producers a little more – after all, where will the latter go?

The silver lining is that this measure could cool a sector suffering rampant cost inflation – and cut speculative valuations on potential takeover targets – by making potential new entrants think twice. Moreover, if the pace of development really does slow, it will be time to upgrade long-term oil price projections in those project models.

Gee I said that here.

And a comment in Ken Chapman's blog also points out the simple empirical fact that ;

In "Alberta's Royalty Review and the Law of Grandparenting" IAPR Fellow Nigel Bankes, a Professor in the Faculty of Law, reviews the law on this question and concludes that the royalty review panel has proposed nothing that violates existing contracts or is otherwise inappropriate or unusual.
Big Oil is painting all of us as morons, the real morons of course run the Government of Alberta on their behalf.

Don't Let Big Oil Set Our Royalty Rates
make sure Ed hears from you.


Stelmach Sells Out

More Shills For Big Oil

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A Little Golf A Little Hustle

Alberta suddenly has become a destination of preference for U.S. Ambassador Dave Wilkins.Though his presence in the province has been downplayed despite his visiting the largest American city north of the 49th Parallel.

There are 75,000 Americans who call Calgary home -- more than any other city in the nation.

U.S. Consul General for the region Tom Huffaker says Calgary may indeed have a higher number of American ex-pats than any other city on the planet.

And this Saturday, Huffaker is calling all to share some food and good times to celebrate the great relationship that exists between Canada and the U.S.

The Can-Am Celebration, formerly known as the American Picnic, will take place at Heritage Park starting at 10:30 a.m.

Dignitaries at the Calgary Economic Development-sponsored function include Huffaker and U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins.

Last weekend he shot a little golf and shot the shit with Prince Ed over the royalty review.

U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins reportedly button-holed Stelmach last weekend in Banff about the key Hunter recommendation not to "grandfather" out any oilsands plants "on the grounds of fair treatment for all participants."

In October he will return to address that august body the Whitecourt Chamber of Commerce. Whitecourt is softwood lumber country, and it just so happens Alberta is named in the U.S. softwood suit.

Whitecourt is the site of three mills:

  • Blueridge Ranger Lumber Sawmill (owned by West Fraser)
  • Millar Western Sawmill / Pulp Mill (owned by Millar Western Forest Products)
  • Alberta Newsprint Company Pulp & Paper Mill.

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It is also being courted as a site for a nuclear power plant by a Franco Canadian company. One in competition with Canadian Candu and American G.E. reactors.

Furthermore, Areva is talking to the federal government about forming a partnership with AECL. (Ottawa is also in discussions with Areva's American competitor, General Electric.)

So why is he visiting? Talk a little softwood, a little G.E.?

Nuclear Power Discussion is Back ( 9/26/2007 )

Nuclear power is back in the spotlight in Whitecourt. Areva Canada President, Armand Laferrere, attended town council last night, to give a presentation on his company in relation to nuclear power. Laferrere says Whitecourt would be the perfect site for his companies next project. He also said he was encouraged by the reaction from council members. Areva is the world's leading nuclear power plant provider, and currently has 98 plants worldwide.

Areva Canada does not build nuclear reactors, that is done by its parent company in France. In Canada Areva is involved solely in uranium mining in Saskatchewan. Given the fact that Whitecourt's sits right on the Athabasca river, this is an advantage for the companies expansion in competition with Energy Alberta who plans a nuke plant in neighbouring Peace River.

It's late afternoon in Saskatoon and Armand Laferrere's flight back home to Toronto doesn't leave for a couple of hours yet.

The president of Areva Canada Inc. doesn't seem to mind the wait. The day is typically busy for the smartly dressed Frenchman -- leaving Toronto in the early hours of the day for a morning business meeting in Alberta, and then hopping on another plane to give an afternoon presentation to the Canadian Nuclear Workers Council in Saskatoon before heading home.

Laferrere is talking about excited American customers who have already purchased equipment to compliment Areva's newest reactor, the EPR, although it's still in the licensing process. The model is being built in Finland and France, he explained, and is a third-generation plant that has buyers eagerly awaiting the day they can purchase the technology. The EPR, perhaps, is the model he would like to see in Western Canada.

"Saskatchewan has been pro-nuclear for a while because uranium is involved with it. The friendly atmosphere for nuclear in Saskatchewan, which we're already used to, seems to be spreading even further west, which is good news for the industry," Laferrere said. "I think public opinion is moving at astounding rates right now. Alberta is very seriously considering a nuclear build. Even British Columbia, which used to be very anti-nuclear, is starting to think about it -- much quicker than we thought."

Sitting in a nearly empty hotel conference room, Laferrere makes it clear that when the opportunity arises, he would like to see an Areva reactor in Western Canada. With the recent nuclear announcement coming from Alberta, Laferrere is keeping a close eye on the situation. Although plans for a nuclear reactor there aren't a done deal, Calgary-based Energy Alberta Corp. said its partner, Atomic Energy of Canada, would use Candu reactor technology if its applications are approved.

"We're interested in working in Alberta, definitely, and we're continuing contacts for that," he said. "The business model is not the kind of business model Areva would use; we would rather partner with an existing utility. But still everything that goes on in the industry is positive for the industry, and I'm watching it very closely. We just wouldn't do it this way."

With buzz around the nuclear horizon in the West, Laferrere notes that without uranium mining in Saskatchewan, Areva would be at a significant disadvantage in the industry. Though a provincial election could alter some contacts in his address book, he doubts any major changes would take place if a new party came into power.

A nuclear power plant in White court would be a carbon offset to the pollution spewed by the lumber processing plants. And in effect would allow them to continue spewing, without having to add scrubbers and new technology to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Saskatoon Sask Mining Week Areva Resources Canada Inc. Saskatoon Sask Mining Week Areva Resources Canada Inc.

Whitecourt is also a hub into the Tarsands. Which is another reason the nuclear industry is looking at it. In the global economy the way big oil treats the environment, using up fresh water for tarsands extraction, creating deserts of sand from the extracted mud, whether in Ecuador or Whitecourt, it's all the same.
Long term pain for short term gain.

As bobert the blogger writes from the Amazon jungle on Blogging It Real he compares the situation of Ecuadorian oil workers, many working for Canadian companies, with those in Whitecourt. Of course some of those Ecuadorian workers may be coming here soon.

I’m in the Amazon. In a place called las joyas de sachas. It should be a pretty town, but it is the text book definition of an ecological and human disaster. The girl here is in a "soccer pitch" and that dark horizontal line is indeed the petrol vein. This is the place that Texaco came tearing into, and pulled out as much crude oil as possible with very little given to environmental and human health. The public outcry of Texaco’s handicraft forced them to change their name to Chevron. You know, a new name means a new history, no?

Despite Texaco / Chevron rubbing the slate clean, the after effects of their work in the Amazon is still devastating, as all the new petroleum developers continue to follow a few basic rules: pay nothing to environmental sustainability, pay very little to the Ecuadorian government (only $4 - $7 of every barrel of oil pulled out of Ecuador, actually stays in Ecuador), and pay the workers next too nothing.

Oil workers in sachas get paid about $120 a month, when the work is good. If it is slow, or there is maintenance to be done on the pipeline, that number goes down…a lot. The rates of cancer, according to some local doctors, are skyrocketing! Cancer is just about ready to takeover as the number one killer in sachas. That’s a pretty impressive accomplishment, to have a first world disease compete among diseases of the poor for the champion of morbidity. I can see the mayor now, broadcasting to all how 25 oil workers died from cancer, while only 14 pregnant mothers died on the road to the hospital to give birth (this is quite a common occurrence, as despite the abundance of Texas tea, locals can hardly afford anything, let alone a working vehicle with petrol in it).

So now, I’m curious. About 6,000km to the north and a little to the west is Alberta. Canada’s very own American State. In June I was passing through the town of Whitecourt, another oil town. Whitecourt is struggling, in its own way, as it can’t build enough houses or schools to accommodate the growing population that is seeking fortune on the oil fields. Car dealers can’t keep up with the demand for hummers, and the guy selling big screen TV’s is struggling to keep inventory in his store for more than a day.

At the local Boston Pizza, the young oil workers, almost all high school drop-outs who abhor any idea of higher education as salaries of $100,000 for a guy without grade 12 math is pretty hard to turn down, are doing lines of cocaine in the bathroom. They just can’t spend their money fast enough, so it goes up their nose. Without their grade 12, and the mentality of a spoiled kid in the candy store, they spend and spend.

What I can’t figure out is why my pals in Whitecourt, who don’t have enough math skills to do their own taxes, have the right to furiously spend money as if it were on fire. And in the light of the bonfire comes the chatter of how Alberta needs private healthcare, more private schools, and won’t give one cent from the oil boom to other provinces who are struggling with public debt.

Meanwhile in the broiling Amazon, oil workers only have the right to work, get paid next to nothing and die from being poisoned. Oil is oil. Be it from Alberta or Ecuador. The world market says there is no difference between oil pulled out of ground by a group of guys who get paid $100,000 a year compared to another group of guys who do the very same job, and sell the proceeds to the very same market, for about $1400 a year.

Halliburton and friends should have an annual worker exchange program! The boys from Alberta should come down to the Amazon and get cancer, and the Ecuadorians should enjoy a month in Whitecourt complete with nightly visits to Boston Pizza’s bathroom.

In many ways Alberta is the whitewash of oil. It justifies the extraction, because life is good for those who do it. But, the grim reality is that most of the world’s oil is pulled out of the ground by the desperate of the earth, who either have to suffer through bad health or brutal violence, and in the case of Iraq…both! If the entire world’s oil was pulled out of the ground with same lifestyle and mentality as it is in Alberta, we would be paying a solid $20 a gallon for fuel. No questions there.

But most of the world’s population enjoys bargain prices on oil, and complain about the imposed taxes that get thrown in there. It’s the brutality of labour conditions coupled with trade policies that ensure that next to no money remains in the communities of oil workers; money that could be put into safety equipment, transportation systems and basic social services that could do something about the monthly occurrence of a dead-would-be-mother lying in the ditch 20km from the nearest hospital. Spikes in energy prices might occur from time to time when speculators smell war, or hurricanes, but the baseline price, is based on places like sachas. Places torn open and left to rot, with absolutely no capacity to take care of those in need.

It’s the same philosophy that lies in Whitecourt, only seen through the fun-house mirror that is the global economy.


RONA Vs Greenpeace

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Blogging Burma

Here are some live updates provided by bloggers in contact with Burma/Myanmar and an interesting post on Chinese bloggers who are talking about the Saffron revolution occurring there.


Killing kind compassionate beings

China: Bloggers side with Burmese monks

Some good news has come out of Burma.

Soldiers Back Down in Mandalay
Letter 'reveals dissent in Burmese army'
by Matthew Weaver and Mark Tra, The Guardian (UK), September 27, 2007
Yangon, Myanmar -- Some Burmese troops have declared their support for the Buddhist monks who have led mass protests in the first apparent sign of disaffection in the army, exiled Burmese sources said today

And the Buddhist Channel is covering all news stories on what is happening in the country as the military junta shuts down all communications, internet and cell phone connections with the outside world.

To enforce their regime of censorship they have killed a journalist. Sends a message.

At least 10 people have been killed in two days of violence in the country's largest cities, including a Japanese cameraman who was shot when soldiers with automatic rifles fired into crowds demanding an end to 45 years of military rule.

Thu 27 Sep 2007
Inside Burma

Shoot you

From Ko Htike Blog

Dear All,

I sadly announce that the Burmese military junta has cut off the internet connection throughout the country. I therefore would not be able to feed in pictures of the brutality by the brutal Burmese military junta.

I will also try my best to feed in their demonic appetite of fear and paranoia by posting any pictures that I receive though other means (Journos!! please don’t ask me what other means would be??). I will continue to live with the motto that “if there is a will there is a way”.

We probably need to lobby the Chinese government or UN envoy to Burma to ask the junta to switch on the Internet. Please!
Good idea here is an online petition with over 166,000 signatures!!!

To Chinese President Hu Jintao and the UN Security Council:

We stand alongside the citizens of Burma in their peaceful protests. We urge you to oppose a violent crackdown on the demonstrators, and to support genuine reconciliation and democracy in Burma. We pledge to hold you accountable for any further bloodshed.

And of course its all about oil.

Democracy, democracy, no it is oil, oil in Myanmar

Myanmar is one of the world's oldest oil producers, exporting its first barrel in 1853. Rangoon Oil Company, the first foreign oil company to drill in the country, was created in 1871. Between 1886 and 1963, the country's oil industry was dominated by Burmah Oil Company (BOC), which discovered the Ychaugyaung field in 1887 and the Chauk field in 1902. Both are still in production.

China is Burma's biggest oil and gas partner. But Burma also has partners in oil and gas with France (Total), South Korea (Daewoo), India, Thailand in partnership with Oman and Malaysia.
And with Unocal, the American company China wanted to buy, and who once had Hamid Karzai as a director.

We noted two years ago that oil deals were lubricating the India-Burma rapprochement, which resulted in a brutal crackdown on ethnic guerillas seeking independence from India, who had theretofore been using Burmese territory as a staging area.

The US firm Unocal recently had its own interests in construction of a pipeline across Burma to Thailand. In 2004, Unocal settled in a case brought under the US Alien Tort Claims Act charging the company was complicit with forced labor and other rights abuses by the Burmese regime. (Radio Free Asia, Dec. 18, 2004) In 2005, Unocal's French partner Total agreed to compensate victims to the tune of 6 million euros ($7.2 million), paid into a fund for humanitarian projects. (EarthRights International, Nov. 29, 2005) The Yadana pipeline is functioning today—and being protested by global ecologists for its impacts on the sensitive rainforest regions it cuts through. (Qatar Gulf Times, Sept. 4, 2007)

But now that Burma is integrating with India—which is, in turn, seeking a new gas pipeline with Iran—the Rangoon junta has manifestly outlived its usefulness to the US elites.

Protests should be aimed at these countries and their companies as well

In 2007, nine foreign oil companies (Myanmar Petroleum Resources Ltd, Focus Energy Ltd, Westburne, China National Offshore Oil Corporation, China National Petrochemical Corporation, Sinopec, Essar, Goldpetrol and a representative of the Kalmik republic) are involved in 16 onshore blocks to explore new areas (EP blocks), to enhance recovery from existing fields (IOR blocks), to reactivate fields where production has been suspended (RFS blocks) and to produce (PSCs).

For the offshore area, Total, Petronas Carigali Myanmar, Daewoo, PTT-EP, China National Offshore Oil Corporation, China National Petrochemical Corporation, Essar, Gail and Rimbunam (Malaysia) are exploring and/or developing 29 blocks

Maybe George Bush could lecture his allies on their principles.

South Korea's Daewoo International Corp (047050.KS: Quote), which leads a multi-billion dollar energy project in Myanmar, will not alter its investments there following a violent government crackdown on protests, the company said on Friday.

Daewoo operates Myanmar's large A-1 and A-3 natural gas fields, South Korea's largest overseas energy project, which hold 4.53-7.74 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of recoverable reserves.

"We have gas fields under production and three other fields under exploration, which are all long-time investments. They can't be easily changed because of domestic issues," said Cho Sang-hyun, spokesman for Daewoo International.

"Politics is politics. Economics is economics."

In December, South Korean prosecutors charged 14 defense industry executives, including some from Daewoo International, with illegally exporting to Myanmar equipment and technology for making tens of thousands of artillery rounds.

Unlike Daewoo, Total is already aware of its vulnerable position as it has a whole website devoted to its Burma operations. About how important it is that they invest in Burma so as to improve human rights in the country.
Despite international condemnation of the Myanmarese government, competition for oil and gas will likely limit pressure on it from China and others in the region.

"A humanitarian catastrophe might shift Chinese behavior, but right now Beijing probably believes that access to Burma's energy potential and its strategic location still outweigh the political costs," said Roberto M. Herrera-Lim, an Asia analyst at the Eurasia Group in Washington.

Total and Unocal (now Chevron) made headlines in 1996 when Myanmarese nationals brought a case against Unocal for human-rights violations related to the Yadana Project, in the Gulf of Martaban. Cases were also brought against Total.

Both companies maintain interests in Myanmar.

"Total's decision to stay in Myanmar, unlike a number of Western companies that have withdrawn, was a deliberate choice, but it does not signal approval of any regime. Rather, it expresses the Group's deep-seated belief that economic development and human-rights progress go hand in hand," stated Total on the company Web site.

Complicating interests further, the Yadana Project now provides Thailand with one-third of its gas, according to Herrera-Lim. And gas, in turn, fires the plants that generate approximately 70 percent of Thailand's electricity.

Like the human rights of this foreign worker from Singapore who was attacked by Burmese military forces.

Below is an actual of what had happen yesterday on 27/9/07.

I am a Singaporean working in Myanmar for the past 11 years. I was on my way to office( near Thuwana area) at around 4 to 4.30pm when the riot police block the road near "Super one, ILBC area". I stop my car with my wife and walk out. suddenly riot police and soldiers drove the truck around the corner and start firing shots at the crowd. we quickly ran to the side and squat down near the wall.

The soldiers came down and start to shoot at us. I was shot twice but i did not know what hit me. My both leg were bruised. the soldiers and police kicked us and the rest of the crowds into the drain and shouted that they would kill us if we look at them.

We were forced to stay in the drain for 15 mins and gather by the into a group.
A commander came and gather his troops and drove off to Tamwe direction.
After that ,i looked at my injures and and found injures on my left and right legs.
My wife found the "40mm riot control munnition" empty cartridge that the soldiers shoot at me.

I would like the embassy and media to know the actions of this army.
We are just ordinary citizen going to work and they just shot at us for no reason.
Imagine what they would do to the protesters!

I would like the Singapore government would make a strong stand against this violence crack down on the monks and people.

attached is the photo of my injures .
I have been attended by a private doctor on my injures.
The doctor said i was very lucky that the shot missed the groin area.

Another blogger from Singapore writes;
The World Is Responding ... ... At Last

The current protest movement needs to be put in context. It first arose from public protests over increased prices, and from a long term assault being made by the Military City on the Hill against the people of Burma.

Shoot on Sight
The Ongoing Military Junta Offensive Against Civilians in Eastern Burma

Background: Since August 19, 2007 there has been a series of peaceful protests across Burma as monks, activists and ordinary citizens challenge misrule and repression.

Meanwhile, in eastern Burma, a 45-year catastrophe has reached one of its worst moments, as the country's military junta escalates its attacks against the area's ethnic minorities. The government's efforts to assert control over ethnic border areas have emptied over 3,000 villages in a decade, an average of almost one village each day over the past ten years. The forces of Burma's military junta, the State Peace & Development Council (SPDC), are mortaring villages, looting and burning homes to the ground, and destroying crops in an effort to obliterate the livelihoods of rural communities. Burmese soldiers are ordered to shoot civilians on sight.


Myanmar's secretive military government has allowed foreign journalists into its new capital of Naypyitaw, which is being built from scratch in the jungle.

The military leadership moved Myanmar's capital (more...) upcountry to a construction site in a jungle town of Naypyitaw, 385 kilometers (240 miles) north of Yangon, in late 2005. Government employees were given no warning and were expected to relocate with their families immediately.

The reasons for the sudden move are not clear. Some say the military was paranoid after the United States invaded Iraq, while others blame astrological forecasts. Another theory is the junta is following the example of former Burmese kings who liked to move capitals to mark a new era.

The jungle city now has half a dozen hotels, which were fully booked by diplomats and other people attending the ceremony. Access to the city is still limited -- there are only three flights a week from Yangon, while the journey by car takes seven hours along a two-lane highway.

Western journalists reported Myanmar's new seat of government to be eerily quiet, with dusty hills dominating the horizon and few people on the city's eight-lane highways.

"It's bizarre," a senior Western diplomat in Yangon, who asked not to be identified, told DER SPIEGEL last year (more...). "It wasn't designed to be a workable city. It was designed to isolate. ... This is a country that's trying to close itself in."

Myanmar's generals build their 'Xanadu'
By Larry Jagan

BANGKOK - For months Yangon has been rife with rumors that the country's military rulers were planning to retreat to the hills in central Myanmar for fear of a foreign invasion from the sea.

But according to the blueprints for the new military complex, it is actually going to replace the inland port city of Yangon, with its famed shimmering pagodas, as the country's capital.

"This is typical of [military ruler] Than Shwe's pretensions to be the new Burmese monarch. Like the Burmese kings who ruled before him he is building a new palace-capital for posterity," said Thailand-based senior Myanmar analyst Win Min.

But according to diplomats and government officials in Yangon, the real reason for the relocation inland to Pyinmana, 400 kilometers to the north, is for safety from possible outside intervention.


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