Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bear Mountain Tree-Sit Under Threat

May 31, 2007
URGENT: Langford Lake Cave

I have made several calls around including Golder, the archaeology group that is doing the AIA's for the area - recently heard they are doing a Traditional Use Study on the cave in early June with a few Songhees and Esquimalt Elders. They are doing this on behalf of the City of Langford. Anyways, I was told by a representative from Golder that they weren't aware of this but would follow up on it. He just called back to let me know they are suppose to be putting a gate on the second entrance of the cave. Also the City of Langford will be contacting the Songhees Chief to discuss this more.

Sigh! The way I see it there has been no discussion with all the nations involved including nations that didn't sign on to the AIP and working group. There is no signs of various levels of government looking to protect indigenous sites or indigenous rights; no true intent. Sound familiar? On the issue of the gate, what would they need all the equipment, generator and crew to put a gate on the site? They could do more damage to the cave. Even if it was agreed to by political leaders they don't have indigenous people or archaeologists on site. Typing fast and out loud here, I am just hearing the news and passing it along. I will keep you informed the best I can. I have to go.


Climate change myths debunked

Climate change myths debunked

Naysayers come armed with obscure references to things like solar flares and hockey-stick graphs.

Dateline: Monday, May 28, 2007

by David Suzuki

In spite of explosive news coverage about global warming over the past year, most people still have only a very rudimentary knowledge of this complex issue. Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge has led to persistent myths, which are slowing down real action that could prevent the worst damage from occurring to our economy and to our environment.

Most of us are just too busy to get to the bottom of climate science. It's undeniably complicated and it's more than most people want to deal with in their daily lives. We all have to worry about our jobs, our families, and just getting through hectic days. Global warming is scary and we hope someone does something about it, or tells us what to do.

The New Scientist Climate change website debunks 26 common global warming myths.

For some, however, doubting the science of global warming has taken on an almost religious zeal. Those blessed with "knowledge" shake their heads sadly at people who are concerned about a warming planet and are trying to do something about it. They pontificate about how the public has been misled by a few (usually European) academics who rely on "faulty" computer models, socialist biases or both.

Talking to these people is hard because they come armed with obscure-sounding references about things like the "medieval warm period," "solar flares" and "hockey-stick" graphs. They seem so sure of themselves that the media still routinely feature these so-called global warming skeptics in opinion articles, television interviews and especially on talk radio.

Media outlets love these guys (yes, they are mostly men and they tend to be the same, often paid, "experts" over and over again) because it stirs things up. These guys specialize in arguing and confusing people, the same way tobacco industry lobbyists did and still do. Having people argue on talk radio is that medium's bread and butter. And what better way to get people riled up than to have a self-proclaimed "expert" tell everyone that global warming is a myth?

The problem is that some people believe it. Or, more often, it creates just enough doubt for people — including politicians — to ignore the issue. And that's dangerous.

Many environmental organizations' websites correct some of the most common myths perpetuated by climate skeptics, but a new resource is the best I've seen yet. New Scientist magazine, the world's largest general interest science magazine, has a new feature called Climate change: A guide for the perplexed, which debunks 26 of the most common myths about global warming. Available in the latest print edition, and free online (see link below), the guide is an invaluable resource for separating fact from fiction.

New Scientist journalist Fred Pearce does an impressive job of sifting through the most common misconceptions about global warming, exploring everything from computer models and hockey stick graphs to ice core samples and various temperature readings. He looks at what the best evidence indicates, as well at what areas need further research. It's a fascinating piece of work.

And it's badly needed too. Many governments are still stalling on taking substantial steps to reduce the heat-trapping emissions that are causing global warming. As the scientific academies representing 13 nations recently wrote in a joint statement on climate protection: "The problem is not yet insoluble, but becomes more difficult with each passing day."

That's why it's so important to debunk these myths and move on. They're slowing us down at a time when delay makes the problem more and more costly, and more and more difficult to fix. If you want to help, read New Scientist and arm yourself with knowledge, then tell a friend or, even better, an elected leader, and take down these myths once and for all.

David T Suzuki, PhD, Chair of the David Suzuki Foundation, is an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster.

David has received consistently high acclaim for his 30 years of award-winning work in broadcasting, explaining the complexities of science in a compelling, easily understood way. He is well known to millions as the host of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's popular science television series, The Nature of Things. An internationally respected geneticist, David was a full Professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver from 1969 until his retirement in 2001. He is professor emeritus with UBC's Sustainable Development Research Institute. From 1969 to 1972 he was the recipient of the prestigious EWR Steacie Memorial Fellowship Award for the "Outstanding Canadian Research Scientist Under the Age of 35". This article is reprinted with permission.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Moms vs. Washington

Robert Parry

May 22, 2007

Every other month, Gold Star mother Teresa Arciola drives from her home in Westchester County, New York, to Arlington Cemetery in Virginia, sits on her son’s grave and reads aloud from “Corduroy,” his favorite baby book. Another mother spent winter afternoons in a sleeping bag stretched across her son’s final resting place.

The unspeakable suffering of these parents of dead soldiers stands in marked contrast to the maneuvering over the Iraq War now underway across the river in Washington. There, George W. Bush appears quietly planning another escalation of the Iraq War – possibly doubling U.S. combat troops by Christmas – and many members of Congress are frightened of the political repercussions if they stand up to him.

A possible compromise could come from a bill passed by the Democratic-controlled House granting Bush only two months of the additional war spending that he wants, rather than the full amount through the end of September.

At least requiring a second vote sometime in the summer might force serious thinking about alternatives to continuing the war indefinitely and creating many more fresh graves at Arlington Cemetery.

But Senate Democrats – faced with a near-solid phalanx of Republicans standing behind the President – appear eager to run up the white flag, give Bush pretty much whatever he wants, and break for the Memorial Day recess.

The Democrats didn’t help themselves when they started their “negotiations” with the White House by announcing that they would eventually give Bush a bill that was acceptable to him. That’s a bit like going into a car dealership, declaring that you intend to pay the full sticker price and then trying to bargain.

Knowing that the Democrats planned to fold – to avoid accusations that they weren't supporting the troops – Bush could confidently veto the first war spending bill, which had timelines for withdrawing U.S. combat forces, and threaten to veto any other bill that sought to limit his options.

Bush also has pleased some Democrats by dangling suggestions that he is taking a second look at the bipartisan Iraq Study Group’s recommendations from last December. The ISG, which was headed by Bush family lawyer James Baker III and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton, urged a drawdown in U.S. troops, a focus on training Iraqis and more regional diplomacy.

Annoyed at the implied criticism of his work as “war president,” Bush shelved the report and declared that U.S. troops would “stay in Iraq to get the job done.” He added, “This business about graceful exit just simply has no realism to it whatsoever.”

Bush chose a different course. On Jan. 10, he announced a “surge” in U.S. forces, raising troop levels to 160,000 from 140,000. Since then, the administration appears to be inching the numbers even higher while hoping that the creeping escalation doesn’t get much attention.

Second Surge?

But the Hearst newspapers disclosed on May 22 that “the Bush administration is quietly on track to nearly double the number of combat troops in Iraq this year,” to 98,000 from 52,500, boosting the total U.S. military presence to 200,000, according to an analysis of Pentagon deployment orders.

“The little-noticed second surge, designed to reinforce U.S. troops in Iraq, is being executed by sending more combat brigades and extending tours of duty for troops already there,” the Hearst newspapers wrote.

With this quiet escalation on the one hand and hints about an ISG-like Plan B on the other, the Bush administration appears to be playing a double game with the goal of securing about $100 billion more in war spending before Congress catches on to the expanded combat plans.

Helping to lull Official Washington into a pre-Memorial Day daydream, administration officials briefed pro-war Washington Post columnist David Ignatius on more peaceful plans for the “post-surge” period.

“The post-surge policy would, in many ways, track the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton report, which senior administration officials say the President now supports,” Ignatius wrote. [Washington Post, May 22, 2007]

This notion of Bush finally entertaining the ISG recommendations is music to the ears of hopeful Democrats, such as Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman. They seem content with having sent Bush a message about Iraq rather than forcing him to accept an exit strategy.

In the House, however, other Democrats, such as Rep. John Murtha and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have resisted pressure to simply cave in to Bush. They favor, at minimum, putting some strings on the spending bill or keeping its time frame short so Congress would get a second shot at assessing the situation in July or August.

Since the Democrats have set the upcoming Memorial Day recess as the deadline for getting Bush a spending bill that he will sign, the odds favor an impending capitulation rather than an extended impasse. But the Democrats have to worry that they may discover, as they head back home, that Bush is set on escalating the war and that they've been hoodwinked again.

There are some certainties, however, If the Democrats do run up the white flag: Bush and his advisers will enjoy one more high-fiving celebration at the White House; the anti-war Democratic base will be furious; and more mothers can expect to be spending time at Arlington Cemetery.

[For more on the new graves and new grief at Arlington Cemetery, see the Washington Post, May 20, 2007.]

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'

New Bush Scandal Helping Big Oil Companies Hide Billions

Developing New Bush Scandal Helping Big Oil Companies Hide Billions from Government at Taxpayer Expense

Submitted by BuzzFlash on Wed, 05/23/2007 - 5:25pm. Analysis


Corruption within the Department of Interior may have allowed oil companies to improperly save billions at the expense of the taxpayers. The Department’ s Inspector General has already made at least two criminal referals to the FBI and the Justice Department, and Congressional Democrats have launched several investigations and introduced new legislation to fix the problem.

In a nutshell, oil companies leasing federal land to drill for oil are required to pay the government royalties based on a percentage of their sales. But under the Royalty-in-Kind program, the companies can pay in the form of oil and gas instead of cash. The problem is that oil prices have increased more than the value of the oil and gas royalty revenues being recieved, meaning that the oil companies are managing to withhold a growing amount of their profits from Uncle Sam.

As you might guess, Royalty-in-Kind was proposed and remains supported by the oil industry, and Bush implanted officials with deep ties to the oil industry in charge of the agency responsible for enforcing the program, the Minerals Management Service (MMS).

In light of the growing scandal, MMS Director Johnnie Burton has already announced that she will be retiring by the end of May. Burton started an oil exploration business before becoming a staunch Republican politician in Wyoming, where she developed ties with Dick Cheney. Greg Smith became the new head of MMS, but he just announced his own sudden retirement Tuesday.

"It appears this Administration uses retirement like some perverse witness protection program," said Rep. Nick Rahall. "Get them out of the spotlight and off the list of in-the-know folks who could provide damaging evidence. Instead of Watergate's 'follow the money,' the Bush Administration has "follow the retirements.' "

Rep. Rahall is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, which held a hearing Wednesday on the Energy Policy Reform and Revitilization Act aimed at eliminating the oil royalty corruption and loopholes, among other things.

Much of the controversy surrounds a mistake inadvertantly created during the Clinton Administration that went unaddressed and not publically acknowledged until 2006. MMS Director Burton claimed at the time that she had only recently discovered the problem, but midlevel officials spotted the mistake in 2000 and the Interior Department’s Inspector General and even top Republicans say she either knew or should have known about the mistake as
early as 2004.

The delay allowed oil companies to save more money and prevented the chance for easier lease renegotiations since energy prices were much lower at the time.

But wait, there’s more! A former Interior auditor-turned-whistleblower revealed that he was ordered by senior Washington officials to drop a case against the Kerr-McGee Corporation for cheating the government out of at least $12 million in royalties. A jury found the company guilty of underpayment, though the case remains pending in federal court on appeal.

MMS Director Burton "is a person who apparently never saw an oil and gas royalty payment audit she liked," Rep. Rahall said Wednesday. "Under her reign, the average number of annual audits conducted plummeted from 540 to 144. And left on the wayside were billions of dollars in royalty payments owed to the American people." As MMS Director, Burton was responsible for
auditing participating companies.

The Bush Administration (and the oil industry) want the percentage of oil and gas royalties to double by 2009 and continue to insist that the Royalty-in-Kind scheme is simpler and more efficient because it reduces accounting and transaction efforts. But it is this very reduction in
reporting through a de facto "honor system" that has allowed oil companies to keep more money while also preventing the Government Accountability Office from being able to evaluate whether the program is actually profitable to the government.

"The fact that the Interior Department would now take steps to expand this program defies logic," Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) said.

Evidence that four top Interior officials were paid as consultants for oil companies hoping for contracts inspired one of the two criminal investigations. With indictments pending and more Congressional hearings planned, there is no telling what else will be revealed in this scandal.