Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Stenographic journalism

Writing in Salon, maverick journalist Glenn Greenwald criticized news reporting that follows the stenographic model. It involves repeating what people say without any effort to judge the truthfulness of statements or the facts of the situation under review. Here's an example from this week:

In Ahem, indeed, the preceding In-Sights article, a reader left this comment:
Yet, over on the CBC BC website, there is an article about how school enrollment is booming due to the economic activity in the northeast. They attribute the economic activity to Site C and the anticipation of LNG. Is there any explanation for this apparent inconsistency?
The noted CBC item is Fort St. John school enrolment booming along with economic activity:
A boom in Fort St. John is fuelling growth in school enrolment across the city, bucking a province-wide trend.

"The northeast part of the province is booming, it's growing, and with that brings a lot more children, a lot more students," said B.C. Education Minister Mike Bernier...

Many B.C. school districts are coping with empty desks and decisions around which schools to shut down. Statistics from the province show enrolment in public schools in B.C. is down about five per cent from 2010/2011..."
In fact, the province's own statistics show enrolment figures for three school districts in BC's northeast is down about five per cent:

Peace River South (SD 59)
Peace River North ( SD 60)
Fort Nelson (SD 81)

As to the booming economic activity, according to BC Stats, the unemployment rate in Northeast BC jumped to 6.2% in October, up from 5.5 per cent in September. Even this figure is misleading because many of the workers employed in the region are Albertans who returned home after layoff. They now belong to the neighbouring province's roll of unemployed.

Words of Andrew Mitrovica:
Worst of all, the corporate media will never acknowledge that it ever made a mistake, ever took things on faith that it should have verified, ever owed it to the people making life-and-death decisions to shoulder some of the burden of the terrible consequences of errors.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ahem, indeed

A while back, I complained on Twitter that corporate media types were failing to report on the near complete disappearance of revenues from this year's monthly sales of petroleum and natural gas rights. Northern reporter Jonny Wakefield had a quick one-word response that had me pedaling backward:

The Alaska Highway News - unlike Postmedia - has not partnered with the resource industries and traded news reporting for public relations. Old folks among my readers will remember Ma Murray, the newspaper's extraordinary founder. From their website:
Alaska Highway News' staff is dedicated to continuing Ma's tradition of covering local news relevant to the region. As Ma said, "We're the only newspaper in the world that gives a tinker's damn about the North Peace."
Today, Jonny is reporting more material that his big city cousins won't touch.

Despite LNG, 2016 promises to be a grim year for B.C. oilpatch:
In a forecast released last week, the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) said the oilpatch is on track for its worst year since 1983, with 2016 promising to be just as bad.

Operating days, a measure of drilling sector strength, fell from 90,161 in 2014 to 32,616 year-to-date in Alberta—a decrease of around 64 per cent.

B.C. saw a decline of 45 per cent, from 16,616 days in 2014 to 9,129 year to date.

"I think across the board it's still a brutal industry," said Scholz.
Aren't we glad British Columbia didn't hitch its wagon to fossil fuels. Oh, wait...

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BC's climate change hypocrisy

Today, Christy Clark's government provided talking points to favoured media about the province's financial report to September 30, the second fiscal quarter. According to Global's Keith Baldrey, natural gas royalties are down dramatically from forecasts. He tweeted "it's a continuing downward trend that's worth pointing out."

I asked - without response - if he'd noted that oil and rights rights sales have also trended downward, while production subsidies have gone in the opposite direction.

It surprises no one that the pot of LNG gold promised three years ago is proven to be as elusive as the one a leprechaun hides at rainbow's end. What should surprise though is that BC's natural gas industry is providing little current value to the province's treasury. What it is contributing is unmeasured pollution. In this province, oil and gas production is almost unregulated; the government having eliminated most of its capacity to monitor and evaluate activities of the resource companies. By no coincidence, these corporations have contributed almost $20 million to the BC Liberal Party since 2005.

Arriving in Ottawa for the meeting of First Ministers, Clark, a politician who never utters truth except by accident, said,
"We've had a black eye for a long time on environmental matters and we have not deserved it."
She's a person who covers eyes tightly and tells the world she can see no evil.

BC Ministry of Natural Gas Development Summary of Shale Gas Development 2014:
Shale gas prospects in Northeast British Columbia continued to be the focus of industry...

Almost 90% of wells drilled in British Columbia are now targeting unconventional gas, with British Columbia’s world-class shale gas plays, such as the Horn River Basin, the Cordova Embayment, the Liard Basin and the Montney play trend, at the forefront of this activity...
Geoscience BC:
The Montney Shale Gas Play in northeast British Columbia is a world-class unconventional natural gas resource. Operations in the Montney are moving into development drilling, which will increase the demand for water and deep sites for the disposal of fluids...
Fracking, Site C and the mystery of Hudson’s Hope water contamination, Damien Gillis, Common Sense Canadian, October 30, 2015:
A series of landslides above the northeast BC community of Hudson’s Hope has been dumping contaminated soils into several local creeks, extending now to the Peace River. Local landowners whose water supply has been affected are demanding answers...

Since the summer of 2014, the ongoing slides have spewed sediment laced with toxic heavy metals – including lead, arsenic, barium, cadmium and lithium – into Brenot Creek, which flows into Lynx Creek, which in turn feeds into the Peace River. Large bars of sediment have formed in Brenot and Lynx Creeks and contaminated water has now nearly reached another major river in the area...
The top 10 air polluters in B.C., Larry Pynn & Chad Skelton, Vancouver Sun, February 2015:
Spectra Energy’s Pine River gas plant in northeast B.C. is far and away the province’s biggest single emitter of major air pollutants, according to a Vancouver Sun analysis of Environment Canada’s annual national pollutant release inventory.

Spectra Energy vice-president of external affairs Gary Weilinger said the company “meets or exceeds” provincial air pollution standards...
BC's Dirty Secret, Dogwood Initiative:
If mined and burned, the total heat-trapping pollution from the reserves of BC’s proposed and operating coal mines will be approximately 14.8 billion tonnes. This would amount to an unbelievable 6.35 per cent of the total heat-trapping pollution scientists believe humanity can emit globally between now and 2100. Put another way, it is equivalent to adding almost 2.8 billion additional passenger cars to the road. That's almost 3.5 times the total number of cars on the road worldwide today.
A bridge to nowhere: methane emissions and the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas, Robert Howarth, Cornell University, April 2014:
In April 2011, we published the first peer-reviewed analysis of the greenhouse gas footprint (GHG) of shale gas, concluding that the climate impact of shale gas may be worse than that of other fossil fuels such as coal and oil because of methane emissions...

Using these new, best available data and a 20-year time period for comparing the warming potential of methane to carbon dioxide, the conclusion stands that both shale gas and conventional natural gas have a larger GHG than do coal or oil, for any possible use of natural gas...

...While it is true that less carbon dioxide is emitted per unit energy released when burning natural gas compared to coal or oil, natural gas is composed largely of methane, which itself is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Methane is far more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than is carbon dioxide, and so even small rates of methane emission can have a large influence on the greenhouse gas footprints (GHGs) of natural gas use...

Air sampling reveals high emissions from gas field, Nature News & Comment, 2012:
When US government scientists began sampling the air from a tower north of Denver, Colorado, they expected urban smog — but not strong whiffs of what looked like natural gas. They eventually linked the mysterious pollution to a nearby natural-gas field...

Natural gas emits about half as much carbon dioxide as coal per unit of energy when burned, but separate teams at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded last year that methane emissions from shale gas are much larger than previously thought...

...“a big part of it is just raw gas that is leaking from the infrastructure”. Their range of 2.3–7.7% loss, with a best guess of 4%, is slightly higher than Cornell’s estimate of 2.2–3.8% for shale-gas drilling and production. It is also higher than calculations by the EPA, which revised its methodology last year and roughly doubled the official US inventory of emissions from the natural-gas industry over the past decade. Howarth says the EPA methodology translates to a 2.8% loss...
No Pro at LNG Poker

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"Cause I don't feel like having to shoot people..."

The Trudeau government will alter Canada's harsh tone on international affairs to emphasize conflict resolution and peacekeeping. The Prime Minister said when deploying our men and women in uniform, the case must be made openly and transparently and "there must be a clear mission and a clear role for Canada."

That was not the previous government's approach. In early October 2014, Stephen Harper told the House of Commons the middle east deployment of aircraft would last six months. In March 2015, his government extended and expanded the military action despite having no plan of how or when it would end.

October 3, 2014

Canadians old enough to remember Lester Pearson are proud of the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize awarded him for resolution of the Suez Crisis. The award recognized Canada's enthusiastic role as an honest broker of international conflicts. According to the Toronto Star:
Canada was often the single biggest contributor to UN peacekeeping missions between 1956 and 1992, but the numbers began to decline at the turn of the century and increased sharply in 2005 with onset of the combat mission in Kandahar.

Canada had sent about 80,000 soldiers to UN operations — about 10 per cent of the total...

In 1995, Canada ranked 6th out of 84 countries in the world in terms of its contributions to peacekeeping missions, with 2,204 soldiers deployed, according to UN statistics.

That rank is now 62 out of 126 countries. Most of the 88 personnel — 54 — are police officers assigned to mentoring law enforcement in troubled countries such as Haiti. The rest are soldiers, who usually fulfil a headquarters or staff function...
Re-prioritizing peacekeeping and humanitarian considerations under a new foreign policy is a change that many Canadians welcome. However, significant numbers of our population disagree and are reluctant to welcome stateless people from the middle east. These individuals ignore our history; excepting the indigenous, this country has been populated by immigrants and their offspring.

A person in Fort St. John started a petition calling for a ban on Syrian refugees. That found a collection of bigots who offered support and comments explaining why they did not want displaced persons arriving here. Comments included these:
  • Cause I don't feel like having to shoot people.. But it is what it is!
  • These people come to Canada and then demand us to assimilate to THEM, they are ungrateful people.
  • They won't fight for their own County (sic) so they won't fight for ours except to take it over...
  • I do not agree with forcing the people of this area let alone this country to accept those that have already shown themselves worldwide to be unsafe.
Bob Zimmer, the MP for the region indicated support for the petition when he asked the federal government to end the current plan to welcome 25,000 Syrians by year end. Zimmer is a Conservative who's previously demonstrated insensitivity toward disadvantaged people. Last month he told an all-candidates meeting:
One of the major drivers of missing and murdered aboriginal women is the lack of economic activity, or simply put, the lack of a job. … Ultimately, when people have a job, they're not in despair. They can stay on reserve, and that's where we want them to be.
Thankfully, there are now fewer bigots in Canada's parliament and they don't form government today. Recently, I was reading about a movie classic and realized its message remains valid today. This is how Roger Ebert described the work:
In 1938, the world's most famous movie star began to prepare a film about the monster of the 20th century. Charlie Chaplin looked a little like Adolf Hitler, in part because Hitler had chosen the same toothbrush moustache as the Little Tramp. Exploiting that resemblance, Chaplin devised a satire in which the dictator and a Jewish barber from the ghetto would be mistaken for each other. The result, released in 1940, was "The Great Dictator," Chaplin's first talking picture and the highest-grossing of his career, although it would cause him great difficulties and indirectly lead to his long exile from the United States.
This is from the Great Dictator's speech:
...I should like to help everyone - if possible - Jew, Gentile - black man - white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness - not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost....

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Alert Bay filmmaker wins San Francisco festival award

I'm headed to Alert Bay for Thursday's showing of Barb Cranmer's "Our Voices, Our Stories." Ms. Cranmer, a partner in the Culture Shock gallery, just returned from the San Francisco Indian Film Festival where her program was awarded Best Documentary Short.

Our Voices, Our Stories - Trailer from Craven Studios on Vimeo.

People of Alert Bay gather November 19th for Barb Cranmer's film and celebrate the community and its people with prayer and song.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Keep the same dance going

Psychologist Dr. Mike Webster writes often about relationships between senior management and the men and women delivering police services in our communities. He knows about moral disengagement, which allows virtuous people to commit inhumane acts and Webster's words can help us gain understanding:
It is with irony that both the social/religious reformers and those in power are able to morally justify their behaviour. The authorities... believe they are right in responding unfairly, cruelly or violently as they are representing the greater community, and the reformers believe they are right in using similar tactics as they are attempting to bring about social/religious change.

This is where the old adage “one person’s hero is another’s villain” can plainly be seen. Moreover, here is the explanation for the failure of moral appeals to bring an end to the violence; both sides are able to justify their own behaviour while vilifying the other’s.

Moral justification is an effective tool in disengaging one’s morals from one’s behaviour. In reconstruing the violent act as having a moral purpose, no matter which party in the conflict uses it, not only do they impede self condemnation but they create self valuation. So whether it is ISIS or the “Commish” each can not only (and does) subvert self criticism for insensitive acts but rather pat themselves on the back for doing a good thing.

...Can you see the human dynamic in it all? Can you see how responding in a “knee jerk” fashion will only keep the same dance going. A new dance is needed to resolve these things. One side is as guilty as the other for keeping it going...

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Mourn all victims

CTV reported late Friday that "the streets of Paris are streaked with blood" and one of its star reporters spoke about "terror acts empty of human purpose." If Tom Walter's opinion is shared by the leaders of our western civilization, progress toward a peaceful world will be nil.

Doing so blurs lines between victims and culprits, so it is discomforting to admit there really are purposes behind suicidal acts of ruthless violence. We don't understand them fully, but they exist and we need to decipher the motivations of people who intend us harm. Only then can we address and resolve differences. If we fail, bellicosity and military actions are deadly substitutes for a just society.

Pierre Trudeau first used that term 47 years ago and no doubt his son considers the notion today. It involves construction of a nation in which the rights of minorities are safe and the disadvantaged gain a more meaningful equality of opportunity. Those objectives have merit on the world stage too.

The fright in Paris is but one drop in a roiling ocean of human tragedy. As I write this, the death toll stands at about 130. This act of terror is horrific but, in relative terms, minor on the scale of atrocities. In 2011, The Economist wrote Chronicle of death ignored:
OVER the past 15 years war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has consumed as many as 5 million lives, often gruesomely: children murdering in gangs, civilians massacred by the thousand, rape as common as petty thievery. And yet, who can name the man responsible? ...
Of course, there are countless examples of mass killings; most more remote than cruelties occurring near the River Seine, within a kilometre of the iconic Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris. Knowing the ongoing disruption in the middle east, let us keep Friday's shock in perspective and dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of peace and justice everywhere.

Project for the Study of the 21st Century, Nov 2015:

Amnesty International, Aug 2014:
The families of thousands of Afghan civilians killed by US/NATO forces in Afghanistan have been left without justice, Amnesty International said in a new report released today.
Aljazeera, Feb 2015:
At least 844 Palestinians were killed as a result of airstrikes on homes during Israel's summer 2014 war, according to an AP investigation. 508 of the dead were children, women and older men.
BBC World News, Sept 2015:
The UN says almost 4,900 people, including more than 2,200 civilians, have been killed in Yemen in fighting on the ground and air strikes since 26 March.
New York Times, Sep 2015:
More than 200,000 people have been killed in the four-and-a-half-year Syrian civil war.
Ontario journalist Andrew Mitrovica, November 13, 2015:
Yesterday, mass murder in Lebanon and, of course, Iraq. Today, mass murder in Paris. All innocents. All need to be mourned and remembered.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pacific Northwest LNG

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

The sparkles dim

Before the 2013 election campaign in BC, incumbent Liberals were trailing in the polls and Premier Clark dueled with Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter for the lowest approval rating among Canadian premiers. A grandiose scheme to market the Liberal Party was desperately needed if the government was to be reelected.

LNG had helped Gordon Campbell in 2009 when his government promoted a $3 billion Kitimat LNG terminal that was to be operating by 2013-14. In fact, LNG proposals had been kicked around for decades. Dome Petroleum Ltd. first announced a long-term deal with Japanese LNG users in 1980. It called for shipments to begin in 1986 from a $2.5 billion liquefaction facility at Grassy Point, near Prince Rupert.

The Liberal gang, unencumbered by any sense of ethics, decided if LNG was going to work again in 2013, they would have to invoke Große Lüge. There was little point in talking about hundreds of jobs and a billion dollars of economic activity so every benefit claim was multiplied by a thousand. Prosperity was just around the corner, but only if Liberals were elected.

Here it is almost three years after the dream was sold to BC voters. LNG prices that peaked at $20 in Asia may now be headed south of $5 and production techniques that created a North American gas surplus are being applied in Asia. New regional pipelines and substantial growth in renewable energy suggest an LNG industry based on the Asian market offers little economic benefit for late coming regions that can only participate by offering massive capital and operating subsidies and gas feedstock at giveaway prices.

Unfortunately, the gaseous minister, an ex-police constable, is negotiating LNG deals for BC in secret, without benefit of personal fitness or qualified deputies and advisors. The Deputy Minister is an information technology specialist and, until a few weeks ago, the Assistant Deputy Minister of Natural Gas Development was Fazil Mihlar, a former Fraser Institute ideologue with zero experience in high value contracts.

This post-it note government fears transparency and dares not leave a record of its deal making because it is driven by personal gain and partisan politics, not by a desire to further the public interest. For LNG, what is needed now is caution, not obdurate determination to proceed at any cost.

LNG Buyers May Break Term Contracts, Bloomberg Business, November 4, 2015:
Liquefied natural gas buyers may look to break contracts with suppliers amid a slide in prices in Asia and an “unprecedented surplus” in the market, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

...Goldman lowered its 2016 spot price forecast in East Asia to $6.13 per million British thermal units and sees prices falling to $5.19 in 2017 and $4.75 in 2018 and 2019, the analysts wrote. That compares with the latest price of $7.45 for LNG shipped to northeast Asia, according to Energy Intelligence Group.

Prices have already tumbled more than 60 percent from a record $19.70 in February 2014. LNG may sink as low as $4 by 2017, FGE Chairman Fereidun Fesharaki said in an interview in September.

“A wave of new liquefaction projects in Australia and the U.S. is pushing the LNG market ever deeper into oversupply,” Goldman analysts including Christian Lelong wrote in a broader report Thursday.
Mourning Oil Prices: The Five Stages Of Grief, Forbes, October 27, 2015:
...Don’t count on much of a rally in global gas markets since LNG buyers in 2020 will probably pay less than today. Producers are better off with a commodity, such as oil, that’s leveraged to Chinese consumption versus one like gas or coal that’s leveraged to Chinese industry. On the supply side, LNG facilities are coming regardless of the growing pains in China because capital is committed and contracts have been signed...
85 Gas Projects Dying on the Vine as LNG's Promise Falls Short, Bloomberg Business, October 8, 2015:
Five years ago, energy companies hungry for the next big thing started planning as many as 90 terminals to send natural gas around the globe.

Now, it seems the world only needs five more.

...“The global LNG industry now resembles a game of ‘musical chairs’ with far more projects than the market can absorb,” said James Taverner, an IHS analyst in Tokyo.

...More than half of the 38 terminals proposed for the contiguous U.S. may never be built, according to Fitch Ratings Inc. and the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit research group...

Twenty more terminals are planned for Canada, according to Energy Aspects, including the Kitimat project proposed by Chevron Corp. and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. in British Columbia. The higher costs associated with projects there, in part because of environmental opposition, makes it even less likely that they’ll be built, Jeffrey Currie, head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs & Co. in New York, said in a Sept. 24 interview...

2015 11 05 Oil and Gas Rights Monthly Sales

Oil and Gas Rights Monthly Sales 2008 2015

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