Monday, February 29, 2016

IPPs paid $672 million above market price in 2015

British Columbia Hydro publishes quarterly reports that provide a long term record of consumption by domestic consumers, which are:
  • Residential
  • Commercial and light industry
  • Heavy industry
I've been reviewing more than 20 years of those records and they show gradual growth in electrical demand until 2005. Subsequently, there has been no demand growth; in 2015, domestic power sales were lower than ten years before.

What did grow were Hydro's purchases of electricity from independent power producers. In calendar year 2006, 5,636 GWh supplied by IPPs cost $368 million; in 2015, 14,418 GWh cost Hydro $1,217 million.

A 155% increase in the volume of IPP purchases is alarming by itself given the lack of need for it but the average unit price has been rising steadily. In the 4th quarter of 2015, IPP unit prices were 9.2% higher than the preceding quarter. To accommodate power coming into the system, BC Hydro had to choose between shutting down their own capacity or dumping power in markets outside BC at well below cost.

The U.S. Energy Department issues comprehensive reports of electricity prices and the key number for the Pacific Northwest is the Mid-C (Columbia) Rate. By taking the weighted averages for 2015 and converting to Canadian dollars, we find the Mid-C price averaged under 3.8¢ a KWh in our currency.

That suggests IPP power, costing BC Hydro $1,217 million, could have been acquired from our southern neighbors for $545 million, a $672 million premium for buying power in BC. Ironically, many of the IPPs are foreign owned companies, happily exporting their profits.

As the charts below indicate, the fastest growth in the independent power industry has been in last two years, while Premier Clark hurries to get the Site C dam construction beyond what she calls a point of no return.

If this government's assertions and policies were subject to careful analysis by investigative journalists in the professional media, we would see daily headlines and scandalous revelations. However, this is 2016 and that approach only happens in the movies.

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

An "accidental activist" on LNG

Dr. Eoin Finn, who has a residence on Bowyer Island in Howe Sound, is a retired partner of KPMG and holds Ph.D. (Physical Chemistry) and MBA (International Business) degrees.

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Delusion and deception are complementary

The eyes of British Columbians should be on BC Hydro's Site C project. It is a hydro facility not needed in a province that has had a decade of flat domestic demand for electricity, despite there being no significant effort to improve efficiency and conserve power.

Site C has an $8.8 billion budget but is more likely to cost between $11.2 billion and $17.2 billion. An Oxford University study, Should we build more large dams? The actual costs of hydropower, says the purported costs and benefits of large hydropower dams prove uncertain. It reports:
Actual costs were on average 96% higher than estimated costs; the median was 27%. The evidence is overwhelming that costs are systematically biased towards underestimation...

First, experts (e.g., statisticians, engineers, or economists) and lay persons are systematically and predictably too optimistic about the time, costs, and benefits of a decision. This “planning fallacy” stems from actors taking an “inside view” focusing on the constituents of the specific planned action rather than on the outcomes of similar actions already completed.

Thus, for example, the estimated costs put forward by cities competing to hold the Olympic Games have consistently been underestimated yet every four years these errors are repeated. Biases, such as overconfidence or over reliance on heuristics (rules-of-thumb), underpin these errors.

Second, optimistic judgments are often exacerbated by deception, i.e. strategic misrepresentation by project promoters. Recent literature on infrastructure delivery finds strong evidence that misplaced political incentives and agency problems lead to flawed decision-making…
In planning, while project advocates almost invariably underestimate costs, they usually overestimate benefits. Again, from the Oxford research:
The Typical Forecasted Benefit-to-cost ratio was 1.4. In other words, planners expected net present benefits to exceed the net present costs by about 40%. Nearly half the Dams suffered a cost overrun ratio of 1.4 or greater breaching this threshold after which the asset can be considered stranded — i.e. its up front sunk costs are unlikely to be recovered. This is assuming, of course, that the benefits did not also fall short of targets, even though there is strong evidence that actual benefits of dams are also likely to fall short of targets..
According to the authors, flawed decision-making results from psychological delusion and political deception. It is difficult to disentangle the two.

As I was completing this item, a reader drew my attention to a CBC report, Hydro-Québec posts net income of $3.1B for 2015:
Hydro-Québec released its financial results for 2015, a year in which it posted net income of $3.1 billion.

It was the second straight year the utility had topped the $3-billion mark.
BC Hydro is reporting profits but only by capitalizing and deferring expenses. Without doubt, it uses accounting trickery to conceal the impact of having paid billions more than market prices to independent power producers. (More on that subject is coming later.) In addition, the utility has been forced to borrow billions for transfer to provincial general revenue. The extra interest paid on behalf of government increases the burden imposed on residential and commercial users of electricity.

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Forces of Know

Site C Is a Climate-Change Disaster, Says Suzuki, Mychaylo Prystupa, The Tyee, February 23, 2016:
Flooding valuable farmland to build the Site C dam undermines Canada's commitment to meet international climate-change targets, environmentalist David Suzuki said outside a B.C. courtroom this week.

The farmland is needed to reduce B.C.'s dependence on imported foods, Suzuki said, and eliminate the huge amounts of carbon fuels needed to bring those foods here...

Why is there a debate about pipelines? We shouldn't be putting a penny into pipelines. Why are we building coal-exporting terminals? We shouldn't be doing any of that.

We have to get off fossil fuels, and that means we've got to change everything. We've got to stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry, and we know we are going to have to leave 80 per cent of our known reserves in the ground...
“Fundamentally uneconomic” Site C Dam would lose $350 million a year for taxpayers, Damien Gillis, The Common Sense Canadian:
The retired head of the Association of Major Power Users of BC, Dan Potts, estimates the proposed Site C Dam would lose $350 million a year for taxpayers and BC Hydro ratepayers. The 30-year pulp mill manager told media in Vancouver yesterday that the project, estimated to cost $8 Billion or more, is “fundamentally uneconomic” – based on its outmoded technology and power trading prices that are likely to remain far lower than the cost of electricity produced by Site C...

Potts said there are better alternatives if BC needs more power in the future – such as importing some power from our neighbours at off-peak prices. Washington State has accumulated an oversupply of cheap electricity in recent years, Potts noted. At night, when these plants continue running but demand is low, BC Hydro can turn off its Hydro dams and take advantage of cheap, abundant power across the border.

For all these reasons, Potts believes Site C is the wrong project for BC today.

“This whole thing is just totally an economic disaster. It needs to be thrown out.”
Site C Dam, LNG a Bad Deal for British Columbians, Rafe Mair, Rafe Mair Online
We do not need the power, nor will we in the foreseeable future. In a blog sometime many years back, I answered the question, “Isn’t Site C better than so-called ‘run-of-river’ projects?” My answer was if that’s the choice we face, I suppose I would have to agree. Except it’s false premise, since we don’t need either. That was, I believe, about 2008.

Now I would leave no doubt. These are two separate issues. I am unalterably opposed to so-called “run-of-river” because they not only destroy our precious rivers, they are – if they haven’t already – bankrupting BC Hydro.

Let’s then look at Site C. They say this will cost $8 billion – using the usual margin of error on such matters, we can safely assume it will be at least 25% higher, say $10 billion.

At any price the project would wipe out a large and very important amount of farmland and wildlife habitat.
What happens in the court room, Laila Yuile, No Strings Attached, Feb 26, 2016:
...BC Hydro acknowledges a point of contention are the changing justifications for the project...

I feel strongly that the province of British Columbia has been negligent in exempting Site C from independent review of the BC Utilities Commission, the regulatory agency created to do so. Both the premier and duly elected Liberal MLA’s have failed in their inherent duty to act in the best interests of British Columbians on this project.

In addition,by commencing preliminary site preparation despite several outstanding lawsuits by local First Nations against Site C, the province has failed in its duty to consult and honour Treaty 8 and demonstrated a complete lack of regard for due process...
BTW, Laila Yuile has much about Site C on her pages and a few hours reading will provide you with a solid understanding of this issue.

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Recent Twitter activity

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Reader comment on BC Clean Energy Act

A regular reader provided this comment to the preceding article. Hugh explains that the capture of BC's public utility by selfish profiteers was a carefully considered manoeuvre. In the end, it will have given billions of dollars to Liberal friends and insiders:
The BC Clean Energy Act is really evil. It does several things (among others):

1. Says electricity in BC has to be sourced in BC, so no Mid C imports, even if it's cheaper.
2. Exempts Site C from BCUC.
3. Exempts power call for IPP power from BCUC.
4. Stops use of Burrard Thermal, except in certain circumstances.

The original 2010 version of the act even said BC Hydro had to have an huge excess of made-in-BC power - that was so blatant they dropped it.

At the same time they kept saying demand for power in BC will keep rising 40%.

At the same time they have a policy whereby BC Hydro is not permitted to build new power sources, except to expand existing plants and to build the $9 billion Site C.

When you look at all that above, note the gigantic benefit it gives to IPPs in BC. Note how our publicly-owned power utility BC Hydro is being ransacked to benefit private industry.

Remember how in 2001 the privatization agreement to sell parts of BC Hydro to Accenture was exempted from common law, in order to thwart a class action lawsuit against the deal.

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BC Hydro's 3rd quarter FY 2016 report

According to BC Hydro's report for the nine months ended December 31, 2015, domestic consumption of electricity is down 2.2% from the same period 10 years prior.

That we've had stable domestic power demand for more than a decade did not prevent independent power producers from selling more electricity to BC Hydro. The volume is up 30% in five years, but through rising prices, the amount paid IPPs increased 77% in the same period. Compare that to increased allowances provided BC's disabled citizens.

The first chart shows unit prices paid and the second shows nine-month purchase totals:

I suspect that BC Hydro will be studied in business schools some day. Professors will be trying to explain how senior utility company executives, overseen by an entire provincial government bureaucracy, expected to survive by buying power at a rate 65% more than the rate charged a large class of electricity consumers. They will also try to understand why BC Hydro decided to spend billions of borrowed dollars to add capacity when no more was needed, except by export customers only willing to pay a fraction of the cost of power.

I doubt there will be many executives or Liberal politicians left to explain. They'll be sunning themselves on the Mediterranean.

Contributed by a regular reader:

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

The inequality puzzle

Excerpts from an article by Dambisa Moyo at Project Syndicate. An economist and author who sits on the boards of directors of global corporations, she was named by TIME Magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”
NEW YORK – Over the past decade, income inequality has come to be ranked alongside terrorism, climate change, pandemics, and economic stagnation as one of the most urgent issues on the international policy agenda. And yet, despite all the attention, few potentially effective solutions have been proposed. Identifying the best policies for reducing inequality remains a puzzle.

To understand why the problem confounds policymakers, it is helpful to compare the world’s two largest economies. The United States is a liberal democracy with a market-based economy, in which the factors of production are privately owned. China, by contrast, is governed by a political class that holds democracy in contempt. Its economy – despite decades of pro-market reforms – continues to be defined by heavy state intervention.

But despite their radically different political and economic systems, the two countries have roughly the same level of income inequality. Each country’s Gini coefficient – the most commonly used measure of income equality – is roughly 0.47.

In one important way, however, their situations are very different. In the US, inequality is rapidly worsening. In 1978, the top 1% of the US population was ten times richer than the rest of the country. Today, the average income of the top 1% is roughly 30 times that of the average person in the remaining 99%. During the same period, inequality in China has been declining.

...But societies do not flourish on economic growth alone. They suffer when the poor are unable to see a path toward betterment. Social mobility in the US (and elsewhere) has been declining, undermining faith in the “American Dream” (which includes the belief that hard work will make one better off than one’s parents). Over the past 30 years, the probability that an American born into the bottom quartile of the income distribution will end his life in the top quartile has more than halved...

Widening inequality provides fodder for political unrest, as citizens watch their prospects decline...

Globally, the slowdown in economic convergence has similar implications, as richer countries maintain their outsize influence around the world – leading to disaffection and radicalization among the poor. As difficult a puzzle as income inequality may seem today, failing to solve it could lead to far more severe challenges.

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Double standard? Of course!

No charges will be laid against the Mount Polley Mine Corporation, owned by Imperial Metals, for the collapse of a tailings impoundment on August 4, 2014, that sent an estimated 24 million cubic metres of mining waste into the pristine waters of Quesnel Lake.

The incident, considered one of the worst mining disasters in Canadian history, was simply the result of “poor practices,” according to B.C. chief inspector of mines, Al Hoffman, and not due to “non-compliances.”

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LNG: another reader contribution

To me, the continuing LNG fantasy initiative qualifies as a Dead Pony Solution.

It assumes there are only positive arguments to go forward regardless! This belligerent belief is presented by people who cannot tolerate facts that contradict their conviction. It’s a position that media refuses to doubt publicly with the same disdain they express privately.

It is the latest Titanic crossing. To hell with the risks, we're in a hurry.

It is required when political and economic agendas stand at extreme variance with reality.

For the Libs to insist that further investment will certainly yield tremendous benefits doesn't require familiarity with freely available cost, distribution and geographic disadvantage facts – it requires faith... faith that political semantics and stubborn hope can somehow can trump reality.

The taxpaying public must forget what isn't feasible and go forward, pretending that by sheer wil, nothing BC Libs wish to do is impossible, including trying to sell LNG to Asia at prices Asians will laugh at.

How did this parade of clown-logic occur? Hypothesis: Looking for an energy winner, our Libs chance upon a dying pony. Being vaguely aware there are miraculous performance enhancing drugs, they decide to inject massive doses of costly stimulant into the beast.

Taxpayers ask, “What are you doing with our money?” Libs reply, “After our horse stands up and walks, this thoroughbred will win the Triple Crown and we'll all be fantastically rich!”

“But look! The animal is dead!”

“No! It is RESTING! You people say NO to everything! You have no faith in what we tell you and that forces us to tell you again and again, using your money for the message. We're always right. You'll see...”

Image above and text below from Yash Mahadik's Blog

The tribal wisdom of the Plains Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that:
“When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.”
However, many leaders and organizations relent and persevere with the dead horse and more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:
  • Buying a stronger whip.
  • Changing riders.
  • Threatening the horse with termination.
  • Appointing a committee to study the horse.
  • Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.
  • Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
  • Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.
  • Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
  • Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.
  • Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.
  • Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance.
  • Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.
  • Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.
And, of course…
  • Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Budget bashing

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Truth found in numbers, lies found in words

I am reading budget documents and will soon be writing more about the provincial government's financial smoke and mirrors but I have initial comments.

Natural Gas

BC Liberals, particularly Premier Clark, are proving to be a fine investment for British Columbia's natural gas producers. Today's budget predicts gas royalties will be $151 million for the current fiscal year and $128 million for the next. Cash from sale of gas and petroleum rights is forecast to be less than $20 million a year for fiscal years 2016 to 2019, down from $2.4 billion in the year before Gordon Campbell was pushed from office.

Less apparent are Liberal promises of a debt free province made wealthy by natural gas production. Those election undertakings are not gone, they're being reworked for the 2017 campaign. In the words of G.W. Bush,
“There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.”
Numbers taken from provincial reports and Statistics Canada demonstrate the extent of change since British Columbia's government decided it wanted little revenue from the provincial gas resource:

Statistics Canada tells us (CANSIM Table 131-0001) the volume of gas produced has about doubled since 2001:

From that, we calculate the provincial return on each million cubic metres of gas produced:

Government continues not to reveal the liability accrued for drilling and infrastructure credits owed producers. According to the last Auditor's Report, that amount was $1.4 billion as of March 2015 and has been growing by more than $200 million a year. If that liability is recognized, the finance ministry's numbers demonstrate that government is in a deficit position in its dealings with natural gas companies. The Natural Gas Development ministry budget, which was $401 million in 2015, grows to $444 million in 2016 and is forecast to continue increasing.

BC Hydro

BC Liberals must have new accounting tricks in store for BC Hydro. The third quarter report that accompanied Budget 2016 reveals that government expects a $653 million "dividend" from the utility by March 31, with more than $700 million to follow in each of the next three years. However, the most recent quarterly report of BC Hydro says this:
Under a Special Directive from the Province, the Company is required to make an annual payment to the Province (the Payment) on or before June 30 of each year. The Payment is equal to 85 per cent of the Company’s net income for the most recently completed fiscal year unless the debt to equity ratio, as defined by the Special Directive, after deducting the Payment, is greater than 80:20. If
the Payment would result in a debt to equity ratio exceeding 80:20, then the Payment is the greatest amount that can be paid without causing the debt to equity ratio to exceed 80:20.

No Payment has been accrued as at September 30, 2015 as the Company’s debt to equity ratio is at the 80:20 cap prior to the calculation of the Payment.
What may be planned is elimination of the 80:20 ratio. I find it amusing that government has a crown agency borrow money to pay a dividend that allows government to declare a fake surplus... and the Press Gallery gang applauds in admiration for the fiscal restraint.

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Saturday, February 13, 2016

A reader comments on forestry

Reader Ken Barry today submitted a comment to an article written last July - Log exports update. It reminds of a subject that's close to my heart and, I think, an illustration of how wrong-headed the Liberals have been in natural resource policy. Here is Ken's contribution:
First off everyone should know there are no such thing as "FALLERS" anymore. All logging in the interior of BC is being one by mechanical harvesters.

Some of the operators don't even carry a chainsaw with them as in the story of a couple of dimwits I personally know that had to stay in the bush overnight because of windfalls across the road and no saw to cut them away.

There are probably 200 plus logging truck loads of wood taken out of the North Thompson region every day destined for parts unknown.

We, the people, get about .25 cents for a log the size of a telephone pole.

Our forest harvesting should go back to the tenured model where the wood is processed and any value added operations done where it is harvested. The small towns in the interior have been decimated by the Lieberal grab and run sale of out forests. The remind me of a bunch of kids that have stolen a case if chocolate bars an are eating them as fast as they can before they get caught.
By the way, comparing the Lieberals to prostitutes are giving the honorable prostitutes a bad name.
There was a day when the priority of government was maximizing benefits received from public forest lands by the broad community. Pulp and paper, lumber and value added wood products were produced all over British Columbia. Direct employment in the industries created many support jobs and communities thrived.

Today, government cares little about local communities and more about financial health of the large, mostly foreign owned, resource companies that fill Liberal Party coffers. Values added in the forest industry are a fraction of what they once were because corporations can invest less capital and profit more by exporting raw logs.

Government spends its time and attention promoting natural gas production although that is an industry that has employed well less than 0.3% of the provincial workforce. By comparison, at its peak in the last 25 years, forestry provided 4.7% of direct employment in British Columbia, 15 times the contribution of oil and gas extraction in the past five years.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

BC Jobs Plan, less than full disclosure

I'm often critical of corporate media but there is still some sharp work being done, even by people outside the major urban centres of BC. Here's an example:

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Natural gas - unclean energy

Today's BC Liberal Speech from the Throne claimed natural gas is "the world’s cleanest-burning fossil fuel."

Of course, that's a bit like saying the electric Tesla Model S is the world's least expensive car to operate. The statement requires ignoring $100,000+ costs incurred before one climbs into the driver's seat. It's the same with natural gas, and particularly gas that's been produced by intensive fracking and been liquefied, transported, regasified and distributed to consumers in far-off lands.

Scientists at Cornell University have been arguing that greenhouse gas emissions are higher from using natural gas to produce electricity than from using coal. According to Forbes Magazine, recent measurements by scientists affiliated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration support the Cornell assertions.

Methane and the Greenhouse-Gas Footprint of Natural Gas from Shale Formations, Howarth, Santoro, Ingraffea, 2012:
We evaluate the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas obtained by high-volume hydraulic fracturing from shale formations, focusing on methane emissions. Natural gas is composed largely of methane, and 3.6% to 7.9% of the methane from shale-gas production escapes to the atmosphere in venting and leaks over the life-time of a well. These methane emissions are at least 30% more than and perhaps more than twice as great as those from conventional gas.

The higher emissions from shale gas occur at the time wells are hydraulically fractured -- as methane escapes from flow-back return fluids -- and during drill out following the fracturing. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, with a global warming potential that is far greater than that of carbon dioxide, particularly over the time horizon of the first few decades following emission. Methane contributes substantially to the greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas on shorter time scales, dominating it on a 20-year time horizon.

The footprint for shale gas is greater than that for conventional gas or oil when viewed on any time horizon, but particularly so over 20 years. Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years...
In Fugitive Methane Caught in the Act of Raising GHG, Forbes Magazine describes the occurrence of gas leaks during production:
Escape of these fugitives is especially large for shale gas as it requires high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fracking forces large volumes of water under pressure into the shale to fracture and re-fracture the rock to increase gas flow. A large amount of this water returns to the surface as flow-back within the first weeks after injection, bringing back large quantities of methane.

These losses can be decreased if new technologies are used and if regulations are strengthened... Such improvements have resulted in lower emissions from gas production in Colorado versus those in Utah, but these methods are not yet being broadly implemented...
In British Columbia, the Clark Government views resource companies as prime clients so they impose few financial or technical burdens and the gas industry operates under a scheme of virtual self-regulation, which may be a way of saying no-regulation. There is almost no independent examination of methane leaks in BC gas fields. Premier Clark has no idea of whether the natural gas industry is clean or not; it's merely a talking point to justify what their financials supporters demand.


Scientist David Hughes debunks myths about energy, The Squamish Chief, February 10, 2016:
I would look at what is left of our gas as being a strategic, long-term resource and I would not recommend growing production so we can liquidate it at bargain-basement prices now, because it is going to be valuable later...

More evidence of ineffective regulation, from highly regarded journalist Mike De Souza, writing for National Observer: Pipeline cops go soft on Enbridge in property damage fiasco:
The NEB actually compromises landowner rights. It compromises the environment and safety...

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BC Liberals import team of ethics investigators


As reader motorcycleguy says in comments, the intended power producer doesn't have approvals but does have supreme confidence the proposed projects will proceed. As in many BC energy deals, the market need for power, the environmental appropriateness of the facility and the possibility of BC Hydro profitably reselling power doesn't enter the equation. The only thing that matters is whether or not the proponent has political support in government.

The head of Narrows Inlet 70 km NW of Vancouver
Before the land is scarred by IPP installation

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Ian Jessop show, CFAX1070, Feb 8, 2:30 pm

The audio file below is a recording of my time on CFAX 1070 with Ian Jessop February 08. We talk of debt, jobs and deceitful government.

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Too much cynicism?

Rafe Mair distributes commentary through Rafe Mair Online, The Common Sense Canadian, The Tyee and other places. One of those is an email distribution list.

I appreciate anything Rafe creates because it is always worth time to read and consider. Here's an example from today's inbox:
So, the mining industry gave over $3 million to Christy's war chest and some people like Integrity BC are complaining!

It appears, you see, that the mining companies have received $300 million in subsidies and these cynics are thinking there might be a connection! Surely we all realize that the mining industry have been such wonderful custodians of the environment in British Columbia that any good government would give them a little bit of a reward.

That they are a good government can be seen by the approval it consistently gets without exception, from the Fraser Institute, The Canadian Taxpayers Federation and the Business Council of BC. I'll just bet you that Resource Works, Woodfibre LNG and the Fish Farmers would agree. I forgot the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and their good friends at Postmedia.

I say that there's far too much cynicism in this province when a paltry $300 million subsidy to the mining industry can get anyone upset and even suggest that they got it by a little, ahem, bribery.
I'm sure Christy would assure us that she, vice premier Gumshoe, and all her ministers have sworn on the Good Book that they would never ever, cross their hearts and hope to die, even look at a donor's list before doing favours, oops, I mean discharging their duty.

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Sunday, February 7, 2016


B.C. Premier Christy Clark still trying..., CBC News, February 6, 2016:
Clark campaigned in 2013 on B.C. being able to pay off all its debts with LNG money, with those revenues also counting towards a $100-billion prosperity fund and development that would generate 100,000 jobs.

...instability doesn't seem to faze Clark, who insists the provincial government is already on the road to being debt free, without one cent from LNG being put into the provincial coffers...
Indeed. The Premier who presided over BC's largest ever increase in government debt - who has committed to at least $30 billion more in the near future - says we are now "On the road to being debt free."

Recently, I heard one of the Legislative Press Gallery habitués remind his audience that, in 1994, Glen Clark, then BC's Employment and Investment Minister, had promised the $210 million fast ferry budget was final, "It's all in the price, right down to the toilet paper." (The ships cost more than $400 million and were late entering service so, in BC Liberal terms, they were on-time, on-budget.)

Interesting that a professional pundit continues to speak to us of a false statement made by a departed politician two decades ago but is mute about lies of the current Premier Clark that are absolute whoppers by comparison. In my opinion, this demonstrates partisanship of some political journalists in this province.

That assertion surprises no person who pays attention to corporate media and we are left wondering how different our political landscape would be if all journalists were guided by the words of American Supreme Court Judge Hugo Black:
The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government...
Recently, someone asked me why the Premier seems to care so little about truthfulness. The easy answer is that deceit is effective, particularly when it goes unchallenged. But, for Premier Clark, I think it comes naturally. This is from the professional journal Psychiatric Times:
Narcissism can be considered both the fuel and fire of leadership. ...A healthy dose of narcissism is necessary to lead and relates to the traits of ambition and courage.

When coupled with authority and control, however, narcissism can lead to an abuse of power. It is difficult to maintain the enthusiastic and/or symbiotic lock and key of a leader and organization over long periods. There are inevitable failures and disappointments of unkept promises, as well as fantasies that cannot be met...

Even a mild degree of excessive narcissism is likely to cause a leader to have difficulties cooperating with other leaders, and to contribute to problems in the transfer of power to a successor.

Malignant narcissism renders a leader susceptible to self-esteem injuries and/or narcissistic rage when his need to be idolized is not adequately met. At worst, the malignant narcissism of a beloved leader combined with regressive tendencies of an unstable organization or country can lead to the scapegoating of outsiders...

...those with a strong degree of narcissism may appear to be good leaders early on but often soon fall out of favor...

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"What? Me worry?"

Partly in response to the article Difficulties mount for BC Liberal partner, a reader sent this material:
Excellent story. Agreed. There's a great deal wrong with BC's LNG deal with Malaysia.

In the latest Corruption Perceptions Index, Canada was ranked at a low of 9. Malaysia for the last three years has moved higher in the ranks of corrupt nations and now stands at 54.

Fifty-four compared to nine... But we are obliged to trust them based on assurances?

Despite this, or just ignoring this, Minister Coleman continues to express his profound lack of "fear". Premier Clark went to Ottawa to flog the deal despite simply fantastic Great Depression Era losses by the major oil and gas players.

As one example, Shell, a major LNG player, just reported a loss of 80% year-to-year profit.
  Shell Profits Plunge By 80% Amid Oil Slump

However, with quite an odd choice, the CBC's Karin Larsen cited a loss of earnings of only 44%.
  Shell announces earnings down 44 per cent on low oil and gas prices

A later CBC report by Richard Zussman stated that Shell's profits dropped only 56%, in the latest quarter...
The postponement is mainly a result of sagging oil profits. Shell's most recent numbers show a 56 percent drop in profit compared to what the company made in the previous quarter.
Sagging? What number would describe catastrophic?

Both CBC articles understate the situation faced by Shell executives, and the likely blowback Shell senior management can expect from investors if senior management seeks to proceed with even more BC LNG investment despite a year of 80% losses and an LNG market that continues to tank.

Picture the AGM:
"You intend to invest billions more money in WHAT! IN BC?"
I think that would be Pink Slip time.

To begin the LNG saga we have Martyn Brown's declaration that the LNG deal is a disaster.

That's not enough to alert BC that there's a problem? How about multiple fraud, theft and money laundering investigations in France, Switzerland, the UK, the US, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and either Abu Dhabi or Dubai?

Recently France announced that there were two bribe recipients in the Scorpene Submarine Fiasco. PM Najib Razak. And Abdul Razak Baginda.

Baginda was the political analyst who was acquitted of the 2006 murder of Mongolian citizen Altantuya Shaariibuu, a Scorpene deal intermediary. At his murder trial Mr Baginda was not asked to testify. Recently he admitted to receiving about 30 million - to lobby a government who already employed him.

The two special forces soldiers convicted of the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder, were subordinates to then-Defence Minister Najib. They detonated sufficient C-4 to obliterate Altantuya Shaariibuu`s body. But despite this level of violence neither was required in court to explain why they killed a person neither soldier knew, or why C-4 was necessary.

About that oddly extravagant Scorpene submarine purchase... Consider the math:
  • Malaysia's population: 29.90 million (2014). GDP: $375.6 billion USD (2015)
  • Canada's population: 35.54 million (2014). GDP: $1.573 trillion USD (2015)
Canada could not, but Malaysia can afford two submarines? Vessels allegedly to be used to combat ocean-surface "piracy"?

Next, as you point out there's PM Najib's Saudi "donation" of nearly $700 million USD suddenly appearing in his personal bank account.

Next, the apparently unconstitutional sacking of Attorney General Gani Patail - who sources allege [and document] was about to arrest and prosecute PM Najib on multiple charges. The Attorney General's subordinate, a Public Prosecutor, Kevin Morais, was murdered before he could complete the warrant for PM Najib's arrest and prosecution.

Following the leak that 1MDB was in a financial crisis, billions in debt, was the rush to shut down all investigations of 1MDB.

PM Najib thus far has shut down two newspapers within Malaysia, and threatened to sue the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and his real arch foe – The UK's Sarawak Report. Small wonder, because Clare Rewcastle-Brown's articles provided an impetus for FT and WSJ articles.

An attempt by Malaysia was made to have Interpol arrest, incarcerate and deport Clare Rewcastle-Brown to Malaysia for trial [meaning likely judicial execution for Treason] Interpol did investigate and not only refused to arrest her but then informed over 150 countries to ignore Malaysian attempts to run the same scheme with them.

Here's a government rebuttal of the Financial times broadside.

Here's the Financial times broadside.

There's considerably more to this story, I've read hundreds of pages. But perhaps a summary by a former US Ambassador to Malaysia might help. EX U.S. AMBASSADOR QUERIES NAJIB: DID APANDI TRY TO STOP SWISS PROBE ON 1MDB
Over the past few days the world press has been filled with two different - and very damaging - stories about Malaysia. The first concerned attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali’s decision to close the case on the mysterious RM2.6 billion that was deposited in Prime Minister Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts.

I say “mysterious”, because it still has never been explained who gave the money to Najib, what it was for, what they expected in return for such a huge sum, and why - if it was a “gift” to Najib and the nation - most of it was later transferred back overseas, to an unknown destination and for an unknown purpose.

Apandi also made and announced another decision, which flies directly in the face of Malaysia’s international responsibility to combat money laundering, wire fraud, and corruption.

Financial and law enforcement authorities in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Switzerland are still investigating various aspects of the many scandals surrounding Najib - his bank accounts, purchases of US real estate by Najib family members, 1MDB’s financial transfers, and the Scorpene submarine sales.

But with Apandi’s announcement, he was apparently closing the door to mutual legal assistance or cooperation with foreign governments.
Internationally, it's game over for Najib, John Malott, Malaysiakini, August 27, 2015:
And then there is the other Najib, the real Najib.

He is the "domestic" Najib, the man who stifles freedom. The man whose police force tear-gassed people in the streets for demanding free and fair elections. The man who has arrested scores of opposition politicians and dissidents under the Sedition Act.

He is the corrupt Najib, the man who arranged the over-priced purchase of non-functioning Scorpene submarines, and most recently, the man behind 1MDB and its missing billions.

He is the Najib who received US$700 million into his personal bank account.

He is the Najib whose wife's many Birkin bags and multi-million dollar emerald necklaces were the subject of a three-page expose in The New York Times.

Today, thanks to the most prestigious newspapers and magazines in the world, the whole world knows who the real Najib is. Now the world understands that there is only one Najib.

And it is not the dapper, suave, reformist Najib that they believed in.

So, it is game over for Najib Razak internationally.
The author? John R. Malott was the United States Ambassador to Malaysia, 1995-1998. He has written analyses on Malaysia for the Wall Street Journal, Malaysiakini, and the East-West Centre.

At a time when multiple governments are investigating the corruption of Malaysia's UMNO government the extent to which BC's government has elected to play ostrich and express nothing but "What? Me Worry?" PR is amazing. Especially given the likelihood that this may cost BC taxpayers a fortune for 25 more years.
A postscript from our anonymous reader:
Malaysian reportage is exceptionally interesting, almost epic, compared with BC's tepid stenography, isn't it?

Among other things I forgot to include yesterday are the implementation of laws which turn Malaysia into a future Dictatorship.
I also failed to mention both President Obama's and the UN's "request" to PM Najib to release Anwar Ibrahim from prison. Anwar's prison doctor is also the man whose testimony helped put him behind bars. Anwar's medical treatment in prison is appalling.

There wasn't room to mention the sacking of the former PM Mahathir`s son from his elected post. Mahathir was Najib's mentor and now is his nemesis.

Awkward, isn't it? Is no one else in Canadian media aware of the problems caused by Najib's leadership? If not, how is it possible that no one in BC's government read this item, still easily accessed at the Globe and Mail...

Alleged scandals surrounding Malaysian PM could have several consequences, Iain Marlow, September 24, 2015:
Mr. Najib, who has become increasingly unpopular, leads the United Malays political party and a coalition that has effectively controlled Malaysia since independence from Britain in 1957 – partly through electoral gerrymandering and censorship of the media. Despite other actions that make him unfit to lead a democracy, such as repeatedly jailing his main political opponent (a former deputy prime minister) on trumped up sodomy charges, he now finds himself at the centre of an ever-expanding series of corruption probes that have brought Malaysian politics to a standstill – and also threaten to bring his pseudo-authoritarian rule to an end.
Rather strong for the notoriously deferential Globe and Mail, no?

How about this item concerning EU condemnation? The European Parliamentary Resolution On Malaysia, Sarawak Report, December 15, 2015:
Europe has woken up to the corruption and human rights abuses in Malaysia, thanks to the dedication and advocacy of brave campaigners… and also to the astonishing, headline catching abuses of Najib Razak himself over the past weeks.

13. Calls on the EU and its Member States to coordinate policies towards Malaysia, in line with the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights, in order to encourage reform on the above issues of concern through all possible means, including in the context of the UN where Malaysia is a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2015-2016...
Insufficient? Add a third murder: the founder of Ambank: My Father Died For Reporting Corruption At AmBank, Sarawak Report, July 7, 2015:
I left for Moscow, around the 25th of July 2013 to attend to my business. The day before we had a family lunch at the Restaurant Ciao, at the Selangor Golf Club, right in the middle of KL. My Dad then spoke about massive corruption. He also said that they [people in power] had lost the plot in the sense that they recklessly and behind their own population’s backs raked in billions of ringgit from construction, oil & gas to defence & transportation. He made a point that its insane that they do not for one second think about the future generations, simply not...
AmBank Founder's Son, who wants to expose Najib, gets special protection from Swiss Govt, Malaysia Chronicle, December 9, 2015:
Pascal Najadi is convinced that the current government, embroiled in several scandals, covered the assassination of his father. He is convinced that the investigation into the assassination of his father was sabotaged.

On July 29, 2013, Hussein Najadi, the founder of the Arab-Malaysian Development Bank (AMDB), was assassinated by bullets of an assassin. It was a contract executed in broad daylight in a busy street Kuala Lumpur.

In Fall of 2013 caught by the Police, the Assassin Koong Kwan Swee admitted taking 5,000 Swiss Francs equivalent in Malaysian Currency to kill the prominent banker married to a Swiss woman. For two years, Pascal Najadi, the only son of Hussein Najadi, is moving heaven and earth to ascend to the sponsors of this assassination.

In the first moments he trusted the Malaysian justice system. Today, he is convinced that the entire investigation was sabotaged to protect the Prime Minister and his entourage...
The alleged assassin? He was released from custody, never charged, and the case of Mr Najadi`s murder closed.

Someone worth quoting [and her journalistic weight in diamonds] is Clare Rewcastle-Brown.

Before I checked my email today I visited her Sarawak Report: Yak Won't Take The Rap
Another revelation that came out from the highly informative dossier, dumped by Mr Yak before the courts was that, despite him being on what was repeatedly described as “unpaid leave” since April 2015, the bank had nevertheless being sending him monthly salary cheques of $83,000.

The cheques, instead of normal bank transfers, were a handy concession by the bank, because he could cash them abroad, where his accounts were not frozen like they are in Singapore.

Yak provided the court with copies of the cheques to show just how generous his BSI employers were (above). The documents also showed that to begin with Yak had signed an agreement to take this so-called “unpaid leave” in May and to cooperate with the bank...
Unpaid leave = $83 thousand a month!? Slick.

If our Princess Enron believed she belonged in Asia - didn't she claim to be a Phillippina? - then changing career to a Singapore bank manager might prove exceptionally profitable when her political ship leaves port.

See for yourself. Somehow Clare provides an astonishing array of facts, figures, actual documents and well, insight. She's also requested police protection in the UK after death threats.;.

If, from day one, BC did no more than consult Sarawak Report as a form of due diligence then the LNG Gold Rush Fantasy would already be DOA.

That Clark and Company continue to try to sell LNG?

To me, such insistence defies anything resembling professional fiduciary duty or human reason.

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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Difficulties mount for BC Liberal partner

French list Malaysian PM Najib Razak in bribery case file, The Australian, February 6, 2016
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is facing a new front in a multi-billion-dollar corruption scandal bedevilling his administration, with French investigators probing whether he received bribes as defence minister in a $1.2 billion submarine contract.

The investigation centres on Thales International Asia’s 2002 contract to deliver two submarines to the Malaysian government and whether the company’s former president, Bernard Baiocco, indirectly paid kickbacks to Mr Najib to secure the deal.

Mr Baiocco was indicted last December for allegedly paying commissions to Abdul Razak ­Baginda, a political analyst purportedly close friend of Mr Najib.

But Britain’s Financial Times cited sources close to the investigation — including Mr Baiocco’s lawyer Jean-Yves Le Borgne — confirming that judicial documents also named Mr Najib as a suspected recipient...
Swiss probe finds ‘indications’ of $4bn being misappropriated, Financial Times, January 30, 2016
Swiss authorities said they had found “serious indications” that about $4bn had been misappropriated from Malaysian state companies following a criminal investigation into 1Malaysia Development Berhad, the state development fund.

The Swiss attorney-general said in a statement on Friday that a “small portion” of the money was transferred to accounts held in Switzerland by former Malaysian public officials and former and current officials from the United Arab Emirates.

The statement is a blow to Malaysian efforts to contain the scandal. Najib Razak, prime minister, denies claims of misappropriation of funds linked to 1MDB. The fund, established in 2009, is supervised by an advisory board chaired by the prime minister.

Malaysia’s attorney-general said this week that the premier had no case to answer in relation to $680m transferred to his personal bank account.

The Swiss attorney-general said the funds believed to have been misappropriated “would have been earmarked for investment in economic and social development projects in Malaysia”...
Net may be tightening on Najib, The Strait Times, February 2, 2016
Malaysia may have absolved its prime minister in a huge corruption scandal, but the authorities in other countries investigating suspicious global fund flows are making clear the affair is far from over and that the net may be tightening, say observers.

Malaysia's attorney-general last week cleared Prime Minister Najib Razak of wrongdoing in accepting a mysterious US$681 million (S$974 million) payment from overseas, sparking accusations of a cover-up in the case.

"The Swiss and Singaporeans are obviously worried that (clearing Mr Najib) looks detrimental to their ongoing investigations," said Ms Cynthia Gabriel, head of C4, a Malaysian anti-graft non-governmental organisation.

"But this is definitely far from over and looks like the noose is tightening on Najib," she added, referring to the new details announced by the Swiss and Singaporeans.

Within days of Datuk Seri Najib's clearing, the authorities in Switzerland and Singapore raised the pressure, pointedly responding that investigations into an array of Malaysian money movements were forging ahead and releasing new information...

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