Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gotta Love Those Danes

Those danish protesters really raise the bar for demonstrations, they're so darn civilized. No tearing down the barricades or flinging paving stones at the 'pigs', the Danes take arrest in stride and actually cooperate by lining up nicely for police transportation. And, surprisingly, they show up in as great numbers every day,  for more. they must be serious about that global warming. Problem is some folk, in the hall, aren't.

One of them is our cosmic muffin, Steve Harper. Now don't get me wrong, it's not as if Steve is in favour of polluting the environment his grandchildren might develop in, no way. But he's not a knee-jerk tree hugger, either, and sees a solution that helps business help the environment as a natural way to go. After all, don't we live with the marvels of manufacturing, the delights of Dow and the blessings of Enercorp? If it wasn't for corporations, we wouldn't have any multi-million dollar mansions and all the electronics we've got.

And that's maybe the essential part of the problem, guys like me and Steve and the way we live. Why I'd bet that, between the two of us, we've emitted more carbons since we got up this morning that the wealthiest 20 percent of Matabeleland. Geez, while we were sleeping more energy was expended on our behalf, than in a large part of Fiji.

Since this global whatever is going to hit everybody alike, in Steve's estimation, shouldn't everybody share alike in reducing the carbon footprint? Shouldn't the Basuto or the Kalmuk reduce their emissions on the same relative scale? If all those third worlders were to be 'moved ahead' to a place where they had the blessings of industry, the world couldn't take it. Sooooo .... since we've already got it, expecting us to go without is about as fair as expecting us to pay the poor to live on less, or gad forfend, to become more developed, right? So that's where the nub lies.

In the estimation of some, then, the nonsense of too much carbon starts to make sense, because having to do something about it is something we just can't afford to do. And if you remember the adage about the ease of apology compared to getting permission, well you see where this is headed. If, in, say, fifty years the planet is thoroughly screwed, our descendants can tap into our recorded apologies if they can pedal fast enough to generate a spark, or get the solar panels defogged.

And as far as the  Danes go, well I gotta hand it to them. If Al Gore's right, they can thank me and Steve Harper when their little city becomes another 'Venice of the North'. If  I was looking at having to buy a boat, instead of wanting to buy a boat, I'd be 'taking it to the streets' with a slingshot.

If You Wait...

Appropriatel to the season of waiting is a short item in to-day's 'Daily Times of London' (dailytimes ). The headline reads: "Taliban stall Key Project".

The 'key project' referred to is the Kajaki Dam hydroelectric project in Helmand province. And its story is that of Afghanistan in microcosm. Initiated in the 50's by an American company to provide electricity to  Kandahar City and irrigation to the Helmand River Valley, the project was abandoned and incomplete when the Soviets 'invaded' Afghanistan. During operation Enduring Freedom the dam was a bombing target for ISAF air forces. In 2006 it was decided to rehabilitate the installation.

USAID succeeded in getting  the dam functional and one generator unit 'on line'. Further development ie construction and emplacement of the other planned generators required a massive military operation (Okab Tsuka, 2007 The success of the mission in getting the turbines to the dam has not been replicated in installing them. Thaat was put on hold when it was fond that due to silting above the dam it would have to be raised 50 feet, or the turbines wouldn't be necessary at all.  But the turbines have had to be well-guarded since by a significant military defence force at, and near, the dam site.

So why don't the Afghans want the benefits of modern civilzation? For one thing the proposed irrigation scheme, has like many others in that part of the world, been counterproductive.  Surface irrigation leaches high salinity in the soil to the surface and actually destroys the valley fields it purports to improve. Not many valley farmers want to get irrigated, and the ones who do, away from the valley, are going to take the water.

The water diversion also causes low water problems downstream, in a part of the world where water really is life, that can have severe consequences, too. Neighbouring Iran has been affected already.

As far as the hydro goes, what production does exist can only be used near the dam itself, for there is no transmission line to distribute the power. Needless to say, one of the prime users is ISAF and the power is used to energize military installations and in anti-taliban applications.

So what's the hold up? While, apparently, the same Taliban 'indians' who necessitated the guarded wagon train that bore the new turbines to the dam, is making the 'road' far too damgerous to import the 900 tonnes of cement required to put the turbines in place. Afghan 'security' are interfering with the work projrects (guarding the refurbishment of the irrigation canals) and the reconstruction of the dam itself.

So there the turbines sit, being guarded against a day in the future when Afghanistan may be a more hospitable land. In the interim, the USAid corporation handling the project is planning to mothball the equipment and is looking for other areas of Afghanistan in which to 'invest'.

Neither a military, nor a civilian solution is on this particular horizon. The road to hell, and all those good intentions, eh?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Santy Comes Early

The Toronto Pleece Service  continue to give the RCMP a run for the money in terms of what pleece services are all about. The Mounties may have them 'tapped' in the strides department, but the true-blues are far better-paid.

 Both on and off the job. A recent story in the Toronto Star outlined the little salary enhancement the pleece service has in its off-time: earning up to three times their regular salary for showing up in uniform to guard movie shoots, weddings and construction sites. And all this time I thought they did traffic control for funeral processions out of respect and not for the $75 an hour they're paid.

Some good news for the brotherhood this week when long-pending charges against some members of the force accused of shake-downs were dropped by the crown prosecutor. Why, after 5 years, were the charges dropped? Well because some investigating officer 'muffed the case' and compromised his informant, don't ya know. As well as causing a lot of that 5 year delay, that 'senior investigator' saved a lot of somebodies' bacon.

This, another case in the many that add-up to the notion that you CAN pay some cops too much money. Last month there was the wrap-up of another marathon investigation - the Creba case - that saw most of the shooters accused of 'accidentally' killing a young girl during a Christmas shopping gunfight, released for lack of evidence after 5 years in the lock-up on pleece charges. Betcha the ex-pleece in the former case have their law suits settled first, eh?

Four months ago another group of 'angels with tarnished wings' were set free after another corruption investigation, but the Crown is appealing that one. So those fellows are still 'living in the hell of  degradation and lack of self worth' described by the fellows who 'took the fall' and resigned from the force they loved so well - albeit after they were accused of taking thousands in extra 'donations' to the pleece 'Santy fund' from restaurants, some run by real crooks. But that's a matter for their wrongful dismissal lawsuits.

For a bunch of guys who start blubbering regularly that 'nobody really likes' them, the gang behind the barricades, bunkers and guarded parking lots don't do a lot that is likable - beating bums, muffing cases and stealing on and off the job. It may be a tough job but it doesn't require a shitty outlook on life to do it. Enough of ,  'Oh, Maw! They've turned me into an asshole! Oh, poor me!'

So we'll  wish all such pleece officers, everywhere, the best that Santy brings - be it a new car, some needed furniture or just the cash to catch up on credit card debt. And hope that the real Daddy Christmas has a large 'Mr. Henke' to leave under their tree.  Bah, freaking humbug!