Friday, July 25, 2014

The stench of western hypocrisy is becoming hard to ignore

Another day, more western endorsed Gazan deaths. "Self defense", "Rockets", and "Human shields" are really getting old fast in terms of the excuses Israel is using to justify it's slaughter, and it is a slaughter, of what you must remember is a very very tiny occupied land. There is no where for these people to go. From Wikipedia...
Gaza has an annual population growth rate of 2.91% (2014 est.), the 13th highest in the world, and is overcrowded.[4][5] There is a limited capability to construct new homes and facilities for this growth. The territory is 41 kilometers (25 mi) long, and from 6 to 12 kilometers (3.7 to 7.5 mi) wide, with a total area of 365 square kilometers (141 sq mi).[6] As of 2014, the population of the Gaza Strip was about 1.82 million people.[5] The large Palestinian refugee population makes it among the most densely populated parts of the world.[7]
"Rockets" and acts of aggression

ROCKETS!!! ROCKETS!!! THEY'RE FIRING FUCKING ROCKETS, proclaim the fancy propaganda memes spewed out of the IDFSpokesperson. Of course, since the battle started all talk of illegal Israeli settlements has all but vanished from the news even though just prior the European Union was "losing patience" with Israel over it's settlement policy.
The EU Ambassador to Israel has warned that a growing number of EU states are dissuading their citizens from doing business with companies registered in Israeli settlements; France, Italy and Spain have already joined the trend.
Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen told a business seminar organized by the Geneva Initiative on Friday that six European nations have already issued warnings to the Israeli government over expanding construction of settlements beyond the Green Line.

EU member states “are losing their patience with concerns not being treated [seriously]," by Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen said.

"The EU is more consistently implementing existing policy, and taking further steps to disengage from the settlements," said the ambassador, and warned that in case settlement construction does not stop, even more EU member states will issue an advisory not to do business with business in the settlements.

The governments of five of the largest EU economies: Germany,
France, Italy and Spain, UK, as well as the Netherlands have urged businessmen nationwide to stop investing into Israeli settlements in eastern Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the West Bank.
The international community regards all Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land as illegal.
It's really, really, simple folks. You can not be engaged in what is clearly an act of aggression, in violation of international law, of a people you oppress and then cry every time they attack you. That's what oppressed people do, survival is a powerful motivator.

Speaking of illegal settlements and occupations, read this.
In April, Mr. Harper spoke out again: “When a major power acts in a way that is so clearly aggressive, militaristic and imperialistic, this represents a significant threat to the peace and stability of the world, and it’s time we all recognized the depth and the seriousness of that threat.” All nations had to be rallied “to understand that peace and stability is being threatened here in a way that has not been threatened since the end of the Cold War.”

From the outset Mr. Harper declared the presence of Russian troops in Crimea to be an “illegal military occupation” and said Canada would refuse to recognize the forthcoming referendum that Mr. Putin used to “legitimize” its seizure. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird chimed in to call the upcoming referendum “a Soviet-style tactic that’s unacceptable for a G8 country…” So it was.
Of course he wasn't talking about Israel, he was talking about the Ukraine. We're going to look more at the Ukraine in a bit.

Sure, Hamas is firing rockets aimlessly at civilian populations and "from" civilian areas (because all of Gaza is one overpopulated civilian area, duh). Those rockets are really all they have and they're rockets, not missiles, they don't have guidance systems. It's a point, shoot, and pray it hits something system. They're under a blockade and systematic isolation. You can not deny a people the right to have an army and then complain when they are forced to use Guerilla tactics, survival is a powerful motivator.

"Self defense" and the justification of dead children

Let's say for the sake of argument that Israel's "self defense" excuse were accurate (as in they were not actually occupying the land they're defending), it's being used as the reasonable justification for bombing civilians. Fine. But wait, just 1 year ago I remember another country that was under attack by foreign terrorists that was claiming self-defense in it's military campaign of "bombing their own civilians". That country was Syria. Let's check in with them...
But as the rockets and bombs fall, a deadlier war next door rolls on. The Syrian civil war has claimed 170,000 lives in three years; this past weekend's death toll in Syria was greater than what took place in Gaza. By some accounts, the past week may have been the deadliest in the conflict's grim history. Meanwhile, the extremist insurgents of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), have continued their ravages over a swath of territory stretching from eastern Syria to the environs of Baghdad, Iraq's capital; the spike in violence in Iraq has led to more than 5,500 civilian deaths in the first six months of this year.

Over the weekend, Islamic State militants battled forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over a gas field in central Syria. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, some 700 people have died in just two days of fighting,
including employees working at the facility.
So basically, what western nations are saying, is that Israel is completely justified to kill as many civilians as they need to "defend themselves" from rocket attacks but Assad has no right to defend himself in the same capacity from what is turning out to be a very brutal, violent, western backed, terrorist force.

Dead civilians isn't our concern at all, only the western agenda of global resource domination is.

"Human shields" and the Israeli propaganda machine
According to Israel, everything about Gaza is "terror". They don't just build tunnels, they build "terror tunnels". Targets are "terrorist sites". The defending army are not soldiers, they're terrorists, thus not being awarded the international luxury of an "enemy combatant". Less than human. Their obvious usage of traditional military-grade propaganda to dehumanize the enemy has been working in overdrive. Meme after meme, cartoon after cartoon, contextless stat after contextless stat pours out of the IDF in a desperate attempt to win public opinion in favour of their slaughter. But bad vector art of hospitals they'd like to bomb don't prove anything in the face of the pictures of dead children and the interesting little details that leak out.
According to Alex Fishman, a military analyst writing in Yedioth Ahronoth: "The tanks, which serve as the heart of the assault force, received an order to open fire at anything that moved. The area and the targets are due to be seized by the morning hours. From here on, [the army] will start to clear the ground, in what could last for several days, depending on political developments."
Or the quickly deleted reports...
And then there’s the now deleted tweet from CNN’s Diana Magnay observing Israelis cheering as bombs rained down on Gaza: “Israelis on hill above Sderot cheer as bombs land on #gaza; threaten to ‘destroy our car if I say a word wrong.’ Scum.” (CNN pulled her off the Gaza beat as a result).
For Israelis on Edge of Battle, Rockets Put On a Show
SDEROT, Israel — The women and children trudge up the dusty hill between dusk and sunset, some with dogs. The men stay long after dark, some with binoculars. It is the closest thing to a front-row seat for the war between Israel and the Gaza Strip, short of combat. Better than being stuck in a safe room somewhere watching those talking heads on television.

Overhead, they can see Israeli drones and planes beaming light onto the darkened battlefield. Below, across the road, Israeli tanks and troops are staging for entry. Beyond, an orange glow — could that be Shejaiya, the Gaza City neighborhood where
fighting has raged for three days? No, too far north: Probably Beit Hanoun, the border town that has faced intense artillery shelling since the invasion began.

Suddenly, shouts of “Ooh, ooh!” and everyone pointed up at two rockets soaring from Gaza into Israel about 9 p.m. on Tuesday. “Jerusalem,” a veteran hill-watcher said knowingly. They checked the Red Alert apps on their cellphones: Turns out it was Gedera, a town closer to the coast. When the Iron Dome system intercepted it, applause came from the crowd of perhaps 50.

“It’s like we’ve been having a very bad toothache with a pain that’s been accumulating for years,” said Shmuel Dahan, 51, a gardener who lives near the hill. “And we want to come and see the tooth being taken out.”
It should be a pretty key indicator when you see how hard Israel is working to keep popular opinion on it's side that there is likely a reason for that. Israel is never going to be peaceful. Peace doesn't buy you $3 Billion annually in military aid.

Alliances are forming

Facing a constant assault of western based propaganda Russia told Israel something very interesting..
Despite President Vladimir Putin's personal sympathy for Israel, which has remained neutral in the ongoing struggle between Russia and the West over Ukraine, Russia cannot openly support it in the Arab-Israeli conflict because of its other commitments in the region, analysts said.
And a few weeks prior to that China's president visited South Korea in what western media dubbed 'a snub to the North', at least until we heard what he had to say.
SEOUL — China’s visiting president, Xi Jinping, reminded South Koreans on Friday that their two countries had fought “shoulder to shoulder” against Japan more than four centuries ago, underscoring what analysts have called the main goal of his first official visit to the country: drawing South Korea away from Japan and the United States.
It should be no surprise these alliances are forming at the same time the BRICs announce their development bank intended to take on the U.S. dollar's primary reserve currency status.

The stench of western hypocrisy is becoming hard to ignore and sooner, rather than later, the world's going to be saying "that's enough of this shit".

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Running Orders, by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

They call us now.
Before they drop the bombs.
The phone rings
and someone who knows my first name
calls and says in perfect Arabic
“This is David.”
And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass shattering symphonies
still smashing around in my head
I think “Do I know any Davids in Gaza?”
They call us now to say
You have 58 seconds from the end of this message.
Your house is next.
They think of it as some kind of
war time courtesy.
It doesn’t matter that
there is nowhere to run to.
It means nothing that the borders are closed
and your papers are worthless
and mark you only for a life sentence
in this prison by the sea
and the alleyways are narrow
and there are more human lives
packed one against the other
more than any other place on earth
Just run.
We aren’t trying to kill you.
It doesn’t matter that
you can’t call us back to tell us
the people we claim to want aren’t in your house
that there’s no one here
except you and your children
who were cheering for Argentina
sharing the last loaf of bread for this week
counting candles left in case the power goes out.
It doesn’t matter that you have children.
You live in the wrong place
and now is your chance to run
to nowhere.
It doesn’t matter
that 58 seconds isn’t long enough
to find your wedding album
or your son’s favorite blanket
or your daughter’s almost completed college application
or your shoes
or to gather everyone in the house.
It doesn’t matter what you had planned.
It doesn’t matter who you are
Prove you’re human.
Prove you stand on two legs.

Click here to recommend this post on and help other people find this information.

Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A carbon tax is never going to work for the same reason no carbon tax is never going to work

Perhaps one of the greatest (and most annoying) red-herring debates of our time is the "carbon tax vs. no carbon tax" debate which always revolves around "economic growth" and is therefore always flawed on both sides of the debate. It's not that the answers given are wrong per say but more so that the question being asked isn't really relevant and so any subsequent answers will likewise be just as irrelevant. I've decided to give my take on the "carbon tax" debate now as I've touched on it previously but haven't ever really gone in depth and with Justin Trudeau's carbon tax announcement I feel now is probably a good time.

Market fundamentals are broken

My biggest issue with concepts such as a carbon tax is that for them to work market fundamentals must be allowed to play out in good or bad ways and as we've shown plenty of times over recent and long term history that is not what happens.

So if we look at the sub-prime crisis of 2008 as an example did society allow the banks to collapse or did we bail them out and start printing currency hand over fist ever since to keep interest rates low and "support the economy"? So let me ask you, what do you think will happen if say an oil company is deemed "too big to fail" (as they would very likely be considered, especially here in Canada) and a carbon levy is interfering with their growth?

Alberta extends deadline to renew carbon levy
The Alberta government came under fire from critics Wednesday after it quietly extended the deadline to renew its carbon levy on the province’s heaviest greenhouse gas emitters.
The move comes one day after auditor general Merwan Saher released a report slamming the government’s handling of its climate change strategy, a central component of which is the $15-per-tonne carbon levy.

The specified gas emitters regulation had been up for renewal Sept 1, but an order by Environment Minister Robin Campbell during a cabinet meeting this week extended the deadline to Dec. 31, 2014.

Premier Dave Hancock said the extension buys the province time to continue discussions on a North American climate change strategy.

“It’s very difficult for Alberta to do anything more than we’re doing now, with respect to raising the costs for industry, without it being a continental approach,” Hancock said in an interview from Iqaluit, Nunavut, where he is attending the Western Premiers Conference.

Hancock said the province has heard concerns from industry about the impact the levy has on investment and cost margins, adding he is waiting to see whether the results of the November U.S. mid-term elections lead to a shift in policy from Washington.

The regulation places a levy on 12 per cent of a company’s emissions. The price on carbon is a central component of the province’s climate change strategy, which aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 megatonnes per year by 2020. The government admitted in 2012 it is on track to miss those targets by a considerable margin, and Saher’s report castigated the government for failing to monitor and report on the strategy’s results.
I'll tell you what we will do, we will manipulate the system and the rules to get what we want, namely economic growth and as we've been discussing over the last few years on this blog Alberta's expensive oilsands industry really has no additional margins to give and despite historically stable and high oil prices continues to hit problems.

Sunshine Oilsands Ltd facing cash crunch as Asian investors appear spooked by poor returns

Cracks in rock could be connected to Cold Lake bitumen leaks, CNRL acknowledges

Sunshine Oilsands said to withdraw US$325M high-yield bond

Sunshine Oilsands founder resigns from board

Oil sands as national economic engine? Survey shows Canadians vastly overestimate sector’s impact

Nexen letting staff go, slashing costs despite CNOOC’s pledges to Ottawa to win takeover approval: sources

Canada energy deals rebound as shale plays trump oil sands in investors’ eyes

Poor returns, slashing costs, job losses. Yea, sure, there is plenty of momentum behind them and Alberta is "leading the way" in job creation (which is obviously a clear indicator of a healthy national economy, right?) but that is going to teeter off too as the operating costs continue to increase. People I know within the industry tell me all of the companies are already starting to get pretty stingy. It's only going to get worse and more apparent as the temporary rise in oil prices thanks to global tensions adds additional strain to the input costs over time. Of course, that event is too far in to the future for greedy Canadians resulting in the production of articles like this.
EDMONTON - It’s a painful truth: bad news is often good news for the oilpatch.

Witness the run-up in oil prices and oil stocks since the jihadists of the newly formed Islamic State invaded Iraq, raising fears that the country might plunge back into civil war.

Since the violent al-Qaida breakaway group — previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) — took control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, oil stocks have resumed their upward trend.

Toronto’s main energy index, which looked ready to roll over in late May after a big run earlier this year, has jumped about five per cent since early June, when Mosul’s outgunned government forces were crushed.

The latest surge in energy stocks also helped propel Toronto’s benchmark equity index to an all-time record high.

Shares of some big Alberta producers — such as Suncor, Canadian Natural Resources and Cenovus — have done even better than the oil and gas index, gaining about 10 per cent apiece in recent weeks.

Surging oil prices have driven the gains, touching a recent peak of nearly $107 US a barrel, up from $99 in early May. Although crude has since backed off to about $104 a barrel, analysts see limited downside ahead.

In fact, with the jihadists in control of a vast border area between Syria and Iraq, the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki teetering, and hopes for future output growth from OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer fading fast, analysts are boosting their oil price forecasts for the rest of this year and next.

The so-called “fear premium” is back. So while oil prices are unlikely to spike further unless the insurgents threaten Iraq’s rich oilfields in the south, the floor price is likely to stay elevated for the foreseeable future.
What does it say about your economic state when global instability is practically a required part of the formula? Meanwhile for those not playing a direct part in the oil industry increased energy costs simply translate to a deteriorating standard of living.
If you are a temporary foreign worker in Fort McMurray, the gap between your wage and the wage that workers earn in the oilsands sector is immense.

On average a worker in a fast food outlet in Fort McMurray — and there are lots of them in a place where at almost any time of day there is a long line of pick-up trucks waiting at the drive-thru — earns $14 to $17 an hour. If it’s part-time work, which it usually is, that works out to $400 to $500 week at the most.

In the oil and gas sector in Alberta where wages are mostly driven by the fierce competition for all kinds of labour in the oilsands industry, the average weekly wage as of December 2013 was $2,067, up 73 per cent from 2001.

Construction workers in Alberta earn an average weekly wage of $1,586 — an increase of 83 per cent since 2001.

This is just the average on a province-wide basis. In the oilsands region where competition for labour in both oilsands operations and construction is fierce, the weekly wages are much higher.

So where does that leave the temporary foreign worker or anyone who wants to work in a fast food outlet or a hotel?

Mostly it leaves them at the bottom of the heap when it comes to wages with not much hope of ever moving beyond that. The guest workers keep wages down for themselves and anyone else who takes those jobs.

Where does it leave the small business owner who can’t really compete with the astronomical wages offered by the oilsands industry?

The Chamber of Commerce in Fort McMurray says even with
the recent change to the TFW program small businesses are left in a tough spot and the federal government should make special allowances for them.

“Here in Alberta and Fort McMurray, we still have enormous difficulty attracting quality people under the current laws,” Nick Sanders, president of the Fort McMurray CoC
told Fort McMurray Today. “For our region, the cap is not appropriate. In fact, we believe it will just hurt our local businesses.”

“And if you look at the predicted job growth numbers, not only in small businesses, but for the oilsands, it’s going to get worse,” Sanders added.
This should of course be no surprise to readers of this blog, but its nice that the mainstream media is finally pointing out that there is a direct connection especially when you have memos warning of "increasing labour costs".

Food bank expanding in Parkland County <- Albertan Growth?

so what does all of this have to do with a carbon tax? I think it should be obvious, as it stands now with the miniscul levy already in place and existing operational costs which are destined to simply increase and an oil price that has reached the upper limits of high cost stability that there just isn't room for a carbon tax and even if we did implement one should it inhibit "economic growth" it would simply be adjusted, delayed, or cancelled.

Or maybe we'll just print the currency to cover it

The entire world right now is supporting their "economies" by printing currency and manipulating economic data to fit the desired interest rate policies. For anyone living in the real world the idea that "inflation is low" is laughable, but the low inflation (free from "distortions" like the cost of food or energy) is required to continue providing the "low interest rate" excuse central banks need to continue carrying out their policies to foster more and more loans to prevent "deflation" (See: The magic of minimum wage and inflation hocus pocus). So if a carbon tax were passed what do you think the odds are that data will simply be manipulated more to the point that central bank monetary policy can simply create the needed currency to cover the additional cost? If governments intentionally inflate away their debt why wouldn't they inflate away the cost of carbon too?

The idea that printed currency with no relation to the real world can be used as a hard limit on real world pollution is probably the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. The day the U.S. stops raising the debt ceiling is the day that I'll believe printed currency can limit anything.

But it's not like no carbon tax is going to save the "economy" either

As it stands right now even with no international or even nation carbon levy Canada's economy is struggling. "Growth" just isn't happening despite all of the continued emergency measures and low interest rates. Sure, we're propping up asset bubbles for the obnoxiously rich but otherwise things are pretty well at a standstill. The lower Canadian dollar (relative to the USD) hasn't resulted in the boom of exports economists have been "predicting" largely because they're basing it on historical models which are no longer accurate.

Awhile ago the World Bank put out a report that said that "addressing climate change would increase economic growth" and I noticed a lot of people rejoicing and linking it without reading it too closely apparently.
In the World Bank report, economists looked at the effects of specific policies in six regions – Brazil, China, the European Union, India, Mexico, and the United States – that are both leaders in the world economy and global emissions.

None of the policies involved putting an economy-wide price on carbon emissions. Instead, the bank used computer modelling to gauge the effects of specific measures – such as installing dedicated bus lanes in India or clean cook stoves in China, or introducing more efficient air conditioning and other building systems in Mexico.
The annual benefits of those policies included GDP growth of between $1.8tn and $2.6tn – which was an estimated 1.5% higher than under a business as usual scenario, the bank said.

It said the pro-climate pro-climate policies would have other knock-on benefits including avoiding 94,000 deaths a year due to air pollution.
Dedicated bus lanes, clean cook stoves, and "more efficient air conditioners". Yup, seriously. Nevermind the resource extraction that will have to occur to build new "more efficient air conditioners" for Mexico, or the tar and roadwork that will go into "dedicated bus lanes". and clean cook stoves in China? Wow, that should surely offset their industrial pollution. These measures will definitely "grow the world economy" because we will be producing more stuff to replace the current stuff so it will "grow the economy" for the same reason that "planned obsolescence" grows the economy but in the process we will have to extract and deploy numerous resources and consume plenty of carbon for the output. It should be no surprise that the World Bank put out this report as surprising as it might be to most people because what are they advocating, really? Buying more stuff which will likely require government or personal loans for the initiatives. Hmm.

The peoples economy is suffering from our pursuit of oil

The idea a carbon tax (or no carbon tax) will enhance the people's economy and not the oligarch's economy is already a big fat lie. Our politicians are paying lip service to economic growth and climate policy but the tragedy of Lac-Megantic and the resulting losses show that universal "economic growth" and the people's economy isn't really the focus.
Most of those who died in the blast were at the Musi-Cafe, a popular waterfront bar. Its owner, Yannick Gagne, who was at home that night, is among the business owners trying to rebuild.

Gagne says he can imagine bands playing to crowds on the waterfront deck of his rebuilt bar, but he is not sure when it will happen. Like many businesspeople, he has a spot to rebuild but is waiting for the provincial government to calculate the amount of assistance he will receive.

"In the best case it will be September, but it could be later," he said, standing amid wood and metal frames in a zone set up by the government for dislodged businesses. "The problem is we don't know how much assistance we are getting from the government, and that is slowing us down. We've been waiting for an answer for months."

Quebec's Ministry of Municipal Affairs said some $4.3 million has been disbursed among 147 businesses that sought aid in the wake of the derailment. An additional 97 requests are still unresolved. A spokeswoman declined to comment on their progress.

That aid is part of more than $200 million that has been doled out by the governments of Quebec and Canada. Most of that has gone toward the cleanup, rebuilding infrastructure and support to municipal and non-governmental bodies.


The one tangible sign of recovery - the return of freight trains last December - is also one of the town's biggest worries. The train is a constant reminder of the tragedy.

"I hear it 15 minutes before it arrives. I see it, I watch it go by my window," said Helene Metivier, 50, who owns an inn just outside the blast zone. "It is hard. I live with this memory and fear."
The one tangible sign of recovery? More trains. Meanwhile new crude oil related derailments seem to happen every month. Nationally Canada is all about economic growth for a small portion of the population while everyone else suffers and pays for the consequences.

We need to unite the people

I was reading a blog post the other day on Politics Respun (though it was a repost from another source) about how the 1% has more solidarity than the rest of us. It's easy to see why they do using the carbon tax as an example. Populations are deeply divided on a carbon tax, will there be jobs or won't there be? But for the 1% carbon tax or no carbon tax: they win and you lose. When you realize most issues put in front of the public are intentionally decisive everything else starts making more sense. You'll start to see that partisan lines don't really exist at all. The end result no matter what choice the people believe they've made will be the same. It's like your parents telling you can do your homework before or after supper. Sure you have a choice but ultimately the parents still set the agenda.

The uniting issue for everyone across all political spectrums should be that our monetary system itself is broken, and needs to be fixed. That it doesn't accurately reflect the reality we find ourselves in. Some people will actually suggest alternatives such as steady state economics but I personally believe that it needs to be a collective decision and discussion. We can't really begin discussing the solution until we start discussing the problems. The real problems, and the current system with it's short term popularity contest we call voting where democracy has been reduced to a representatives' "yay" or "nay" along party lines on lobbied corporate bills they've never even read, can not address our long term structural issues. Nobody wants to spill the beans.

The banking Ponzi-scheme is the issue I believe that can unite left and right. It's why I believe that I have followers and readers from across the political spectrum. Left and right represent different management styles of the existing system but what we really need is to revamp and restructure the entire thing. We need to re-orient the economy so that it meets the needs of the people and isn't predicated on infinite growth. We need to restructure the political system away from parties, not more towards them, proportional representation is the last thing we need. We need individuals, real people, analyzing and discussing these problems not what has essentially become a new form of royal inheritance with multiple people from the same families taking important political roles in countries with millions of people.

We need nothing short of a revolution, not of violence, but of the mind where we finally realize that no matter what order the deck chairs are in we're still on the Titanic.

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Smaller words", Big Dreams, Hidden Realities

The Progressive Conservatives of Alberta are getting pretty desperate. Not that I believe in the leadership race but rather that the unified "we need more debt" stance for "capital projects" and "Building Alberta" is really quite interesting when you consider Alberta is a province that once prided itself on it's "debt free" status. You'd think one of these politicians running for leadership might try to advocate it after all Alberta's enjoyed pointing it out whenever another province made an economic blunder, or borrowed. But no, instead Conservative Albertans are having to vote for (what is admittedly very entertaining) blabber like this:
Tory leadership candidate Ric McIver said Tuesday the provincial government must do a better job explaining to Albertans why it needs to take on debt for infrastructure.

In a breakfast speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, McIver said he accepts using debt to pay for capital projects but borrowing should be linked to specific projects, with a fixed repayment schedule.

The government must also demonstrate that its debt-to-GDP ratio will decline within a three-to-five year planning horizon, he said.

The Calgary-Hays MLA told reporters that a revamped budget presentation and “plain talk” would build support among Albertans for the government’s fiscal plan.

“We need to talk to them in a language they want to hear and I don’t believe we’ve been doing that well enough as a government,” said McIver, who stepped down as infrastructure minister to run for the Progressive Conservative leadership.

“When I talk about these things I use smaller words. Because you know what, I’m not smarter than other Albertans and I don’t want to present myself as being (so). And I want Albertans to be comfortable with what we’re saying and I want Albertans to say ‘yeah, what my government is saying I understand.’”

In the spring budget, the PC government projected it would post a $1.1-billion surplus this year while taking on $5.1 billion in debt to pay for public infrastructure, part of a plan that will see the province’s total liability rise to $18.4 billion by 2015-16.

Isn't that cute? "smaller words" lol. So, he's not really smarter than Albertans because he's purposely dumbing himself down to their level. It's a well known fact Albertans just can't handle "bigger words". Albertans need "plain talk" and then they'll see why everything the government has been telling them for years about debt is completely false and yet all of the "prestige" the Conservative brand name earned in the process as "prudent fiscal managers" should stay.

You see the truth is that Albertans have been fooled into believing they were debt free (largely to support the myth of oilsands prosperity as being incredibly profitable which at the time they were, sort of) and now they need to understand in "plain talk" with "smaller words" why they actually aren't. "Capital projects", but if those words are too big we'll just go with "build stuff". We need to build stuff, why? Because we're growing. Why are we growing? To support the supposedly profitable industry known as the oilsands industry. How do we become profitable? Well.. something something oil price and markets and magic. The Alberta government has no plan, they're more like the Underwear Gnomes in South Park:
  • Step 1) Collecting bitumen.
  • Step 2) ???
  • Step 3) Profit!
The Alberta government is perpetually on Step 2; from Ralph Klein who figured he'd just defer "building stuff" into the future to "pay off the debt" that we're now re-acquiring to start "building stuff" to the Ed Stelmach era where the government's target price for oil was constantly raised upward to the current era where unattainable and unsustainable price targets are the only option left only to be replaced by [in smaller words] "we'll get more money if we just get access to new markets". If we get access to new markets there will be something else, some new excuse, if we get pipelines there will need to be something else. It doesn't matter what price they're selling at or how much we produce their associated revenue will always (and I can't stress this enough: ALWAYS) be insufficient to cover the related costs to support oilsands growth. Always.

That's not going to stop them from trying to convince you that everything is just going swell though, building off the other global lies currently at play and using some fairly "bigger words".

Record income for Alberta’s Heritage Fund
Strong equity markets helped push the Heritage Fund to an all-time earnings record of $2.1 billion in 2013-14.

The fund posted a 16 per cent return, the third highest since it was created in 1976. At March 31, the fund was worth $17.5 billion on a fair value basis.

“The Heritage Fund’s strong growth confirms what we have been telling Albertans for some time now—that we can grow our short-term and long-term savings and keep our balance sheet strong at the same time.”Doug Horner, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance

According to the Heritage Fund’s 2013-14 Annual Report, the fund’s average annual investment return over the past five years was 12.7 per cent. The 10-year average annual return is 7.5 per cent

The Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund is a key part of the government’s legislated savings plan that will see Alberta’s total savings; which include the Heritage Fund, endowments and the Contingency Account; grow to $26 billion over the next three years. A portion of non-renewable resource revenue will be regularly set aside for savings, and by 2017-18, all net income earned by the Heritage Fund will remain in the fund.
So apparently because the government bet right on the equity markets they've now shown that "we can grow our short-term and long-term savings and keep our balance sheet strong at the same time.". Hmm, how about that?


Oh, right, I mentioned how this lie is just building off other lies? Right, well an interesting paragraph in a piece on Joe Oliver (unrelated though)
“The market, bolstered by the Federal Reserve, seems content to ignore weaker U.S. data and Iraq, putting off the day of reckoning yet again. New-home sales are surging once again, as the market continues the trick of focusing on one piece of good news to the exclusion of others.”
Why is it a lie? Because they know it's temporary. They didn't do anything special, the market won that year for them just as it lost for them in 2008 and 2009. This doesn't confirm anything for Albertans besides the fact the Alberta government hasn't learned a god damned thing and are now depending on an artificially manipulated market to deliver their hopes and dreams (and cover up their mistakes).

They're still gambling and calling that a plan. 2.1 billion fuckin dollars? Really? Because of a market that's bolstered by.. oh let's see... what is now only uh yes, $35 billion in bond buying per month. I don't know if you've noticed this folks but with the amount of currency that's been injected into the global economy 2.1billion isn't exactly what it used to be. They're printing U.S. dollars like it's confetti. Japan is printing to "keep the market bolstered" too. They're all printing. So does this market win actually mean anything? I'd bet that by 2017-2018 when the Albertans finally get some of that "income" being generated from their children's savings back (supposedly) that the central bank and "recovery" cash cows will have run out.

In smaller words that means: "the cake is a lie".

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The current turmoil in Iraq is a direct result of our actions and inaction

It wasn't very long ago that John Kerry stood in front of the world to convince us that bombing Syria in support of the 'rebels' (which at the time it was just being discovered that a large majority of them were actually al-Qaeda affiliates even though this was well known in intelligence circles long before) in an effort to help overthrow Assad was in everyone's best interest. Thankfully due to an unexpected question and the strategic insight of Russia this reality never came to be or the strength of the ISIS offensive in Iraq would be much stronger and Syria would be over run with ISIS fighters and if you can believe it even less stable then it is now.

Assad has been fighting a foreign invasion this entire time while our news told us it was a democratic revolution which we of course supported because we really really really don't like Assad and feel it's our place to decide the Syrian's political future. Can you imagine how western governments would respond to an al-Qaeda Jihad in their countries? You can just hear Mr. Burns shouting "release the drones". Did you once hear the west talk about getting involved against ISIS up until this point? No. We've been perfectly happy to allow them to build up their army as that was supposedly in the west's interest in taking out Assad.

But before Syria, there was Libya, in which the west actually supported these ISIS fighters in the overthrow of Gaddafi. Unlike Syria the news that we were actually aiding al-Qaeda in Libya never became mainstream. Western citizens in effect were cheering for the events that have now led up to this Iraq situation. The west isn't just responsible for the destabilization of Iraq with what is still an illegal invasion on false pretense to overthrow a dictator which the west installed, supported, and even aided in the execution of heinous war crimes but we're responsible for the strength of the invading ISIS fighters too.

We're responsible for the creation of al-Qaeda in the first place, we were responsible for the installation and support of Saddam.  No matter how you slice it the west is responsible for this situation, both directly in our actions and directly through our inaction in support of the west's real agenda to destabilize the Middle east and control the remaining non-renewable resources there. This is not a debate between whether it's "Bush's fault" or "Obama's fault"; it's both of their faults and it's your fault too. Yes, you, dear reader, for not holding our leaders to account as they set out on a quest for world domination using pathetic evidence and excuses to pave the way.

Supporting refugees created by our actions doesn't stop the number of refugees that need help from increasing. If you really want to help these countries, if you really want to help these people, then you must start calling out western governments on their bullshit. It's not a left or right agenda, it's a global agenda implemented and executed by multiple countries all being overseen by the same banking cartel. It is time for the citizens of western nations to start demanding trials for war crimes, those in the present and those done in the past. From Bush Sr. to Obama, from Cheney to Clinton, it is time we recognize that not one single fucking "intervention" has had the advertised results. It's time to recognize that the only thing the "war on terror" has accomplished is the radicalization of more people as the west indiscriminately kills and occupies.

The rest of the world isn't stupid, it may take awhile but the era of American and western "exceptionalism" is quickly coming to a close. I know it feels good to continue acting as though we're the beacon of freedom and prosperity and as though our opinion on the behavior of foreign governments actually mean something, but it doesn't. We have no legs to stand on, we are as corrupt as corrupt can be and the stench of our hypocrisy won't go un-addressed forever.

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tesla Motors open-sources it's patents

Tesla Motors today announced that all patents that it owns are now open-sourced and in the public domain. In a blog post titled 'All Our Patent Are Belong To You' Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk says:
Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.

We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.

Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.
Good on ya Tesla!

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

'Alberta Tories won't push 'panic button' after Total shelves $11 billion project' - Because they have already pressed it

Alberta Tories won't push 'panic button' after Total shelves $11 billion project
Finance Minister Doug Horner said Tuesday the government "isn't pushing any panic buttons" after Total E & P decided to shelve an $11-billion megaproject and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers issued sour projections for Alberta's oilpatch.

"There's always a concern when you see one of these large projects that is going to be moved to another jurisdiction; we're still concerned about the high cost of investment for megaprojects in our province, (but) we are seeing a lot of interest in other sectors and other projects that we think will still come to fruition," Horner said in an editorial board meeting with Postmedia News.

"It is still the No. 1 resource in the world that is not state-controlled, so it is still a very good place to invest."

Last month, Total E & P Canada president and chief executive Andre Goffart said the company has put the Joslyn North oilsand mine on hold indefinitely. The project was expected to cost $11 billion and generate 100,000 barrels of crude a day.

Shortly after the Total announcement, CAPP projected crude oil production from Alberta's oilsands will reach 4.8 million barrels per day by 2030, 400,000 fewer barrels per day than in last year's forecast.

Horner highlighted positive developments, noting the European Union appears to be backing away from plans to label oilsands "dirty" as a result of fierce lobbying from provincial and federal governments alongside oilsands producers.

Horner also acknowledged that Alberta continues to be a high-cost business environment.
The Alberta government is going to play this card until the cows come home (or die). They're bought and paid for to sell you the oilsands. Of course they're not pushing the panic button, because internally the government has been raising the alarm on this for years.
A confidential government memorandum obtained by CBC News warns that soaring costs of developing the Alberta oilsands could put the brakes on the massive project, stalling one of the main engines of the Canadian economy.
The booming oilsands industry supports tens of thousands of Canadian jobs, and pumps billions of dollars a year into the national economy.

The memo written by Mark Corey, one of the highest-ranking officials in the federal Department of Natural Resources, warns that if the current trend of spiralling labour and other costs continues, investors may start to turn off the tap on the massive amounts of money needed to develop the oilsands.

"Although current crude prices promote oilsands development, ever-increasing capital and operating costs could make this price insufficient to support oilsands development at forecast levels," Corey writes.

Cost increases are currently "the biggest risk to investment in the sector," and could jeopardize the viability of some projects, he says.
Rising labour costs

The memo estimates that operating and capital costs to extract a barrel of oil from the tar-like sands have both more than doubled over the past decade.

It blames a chronic shortage of workers and resulting sky-high labour costs as the main cause of increased operating expenses.

Corey's memo reflects a growing concern inside government over the future of the oilsands, and specifically the massive amount of capital investment that will be needed to fuel their continued development.
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver recently estimated the oilsands would need $650 billion in capital investments in the next decade alone — almost five times what's been spent there over the past 50 years.

The memo written in April this year was obtained under the Access to Information Act and appears to have been prepared for Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver.

The document pre-dates the Harper government's current review of foreign takeovers of two Canadian energy companies.

It nonetheless bolsters the contention of many in industry and government that Canada can hardly afford to turn away foreign investment in the oilsands.
They're fucking desperate to get to Asia, but Asia isn't going to change anything. The alarm has been raised. Just look:

Jim Prentice says he's leader Alberta needs to build Northern Gateway pipeline to B.C. coast 

It's such utter bullshit that I'm not going to bother pasting anything from it outside of one paragraph but go ahead and take a gander. Remember this is the same Jim Prentice who has also been saying Alberta really needs to take out debt to support oilsands growth and you know paying that debt back "might depend a bit on oil prices".
Former Alberta premier Alison Redford coined the term "bitumen bubble" to refer to the price spread between oilsands crude and conventional North American oil caused by Alberta's reliance on the United States as its sole consumer.
We're not selling conventional oil, we're selling low quality bitumen. It's not oil. It's bitumen. It's the "bitumen bubble". It's not the "Alberta's light sweet conventional crude oil bubble". It's the "bullshit bubble" is what it is and seriously folks it's looking like it's getting pretty hard for the department of the management of public perception to cover up the downward spiral they've put us on in the name of short-term profits.

They're just such true believers. From the days of Ralph Klein who believed if we just defer the majority of the costs of "growth" into the future we'll eventually be able to afford them. Or now, believing catching up our infrastructure on the backs of our children when things are projected to get worse, not better. Exactly what wages are our children going to pay this debt off with as "high labour costs" and the "coincidential" TFW explosion are driving down wages even further.

The "alarm" was pressed long ago, and they've been responding to it (with your money of course) but not in your interest. They want to sell more, faster, now, but no matter how much they sell they will not overcome the 5:1 energy return on energy investment ratio as we slowly destroy ourselves in the process.

Without a long term economic benefit rapidly producing these things makes absolutely no sense what-so-ever. Whether you're left or right, if you have any business sense what-so-ever you would be stupid to not realize that the oilsands are an economic sinkhole.

It's "jobs" for you, and "growth" for them

I may live in Alberta but when I say we I am talking about all Canadians as Alberta's problems and the collateral damage caused by them will be your problem too. For instance, take Harper's recent joint announcement's on climate change. He thou declare!
Stephen Harper insists he won’t be pressured to alter his business-friendly climate-change policies, saying the Conservative government is simply more upfront than leadership in some other countries about its intention to avoid abatement measures that hurt jobs and economic growth.

“No matter what they say, no country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country. We are just a little more frank about that,” the Prime Minister said.
He's right, no country (or rather those that control the monetary systems of those countries) is going to purposely crash their ponzi-conomy and so we definitely can not interfere with infinite economic growth. Of course infinite economic growth is tightly coupled to fossil fuel consumption and it's not really like things are getting cheaper... right?

So, knowing this, what would you believe? That the government is working to fix the TFW program? Or that they've actually orchestrated the entire ordeal?

Open your wallet, pull out your S.I.N. card and read that number to yourself. That's you. That number, to the government, is all you are. What is a S.I.N. card anyway? It identifies you, or to be more specific: your labour, as collateral to the private banks for the privilege of borrowing from them at interest and if the country can't pay? It's the citizens who suffer. "Social Insurance Number", don't you get it? YOU'RE THE INSURANCE! Or "security" if you're an American.

"Jobs" and "growth" always go together because it is the "jobs" which support "growth" which supports currency expansion, which supports taxes and paying private debt, which supports other taxes or the public debt to private banks which use fractional reserve lending or just simply print the currency from nothing and charge interest on top of it.

So no, we won't be getting in the way of the fantasy that infinite economic growth is possible even as the cracks start to show in the foundations of that assessment. The promises of the future will be bigger, not smaller. Grander, even. Like floating fucking houses! hell yea! I mean who didn't love Waterworld?

Unfortunately while "jobs" and growth go together they do not necessarily mean jobs for you and if you look at the way energy is driving up costs and is likely to continue doing so I think you'll quickly come to the realization the growth isn't either.

You know, there was a time that something called "competition" drove wages. Employers had to compete usually by offering higher wages to entice people to work there. As we discussed the other day with the Restaurant CEO's declaration that even if these places offered $100 per hour Canadians wouldn't take the job. Not couldn't, wouldn't. Oh yea, sure, the pitiful state of wages in Canada has absolutely nothing to do with it right?
The OECD says Canada’s urban housing markets are overvalued, making owning a home too difficult for many Canadians and increasing inequality.

In the first major survey of the Canadian economy in two years, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development takes particular aim at risks in the housing market, while also chiding the country's environmental record, the oilsands and skills training.
IMF sounds global housing alarm
The warning from the IMF shows how an acceleration in global house prices from already high levels has emerged as one of the major threats to economic stability, with countries making limited progress in keeping them under control.

Min Zhu, the IMF's deputy managing director, said the tools for containing housing booms were "still being developed" but that "this should not be an excuse for inaction".

House prices "remain well above the historical averages for a majority of countries" in relation to incomes and rents, Mr Zhu said in a speech to the Bundesbank last week, which was only released on Wednesday because it clashed with a European Central Bank announcement.

"This is true for instance for Australia, Belgium, Canada, Norway and Sweden," he said.

In the wake of the global recession central bankers have cut interest rates to record lows, pushing house prices to a level that the IMF regards as a significant risk to economies as diverse as Hong Kong and Israel.

In Canada, for example, house prices are 33 per cent above their long-run average in relation to incomes and 87 per cent above their long-run average compared with rents. The figures for the UK are 27 per cent relative to incomes and 38 per cent relative to rents.
It's not like people are finding themselves priced out of more and more items the west used to take for granted. Again, look at that S.I.N. card of yours, low interest rates - cheap loans - are here not for you the sucker holding devaluing currency but for the banking sector.

Whether we're selling the future generations' resources, destroying free market wages by subsidizing cheap labour so corporations can skirt competition, or pricing first time home buyers out of permanent security for their family, it's being done because things are not nearly as stable as those in power would like us to believe. My suggestion? Don't believe them.

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.