The Dippers’ Big Idea: Negawatts

Posted December 10th, 2010 in Canada, Climate Change, Technology by MarkOttawa

I kid you not. And I thought they didn’t believe in negative campaigning. Dan Gardner (talk about muscular writing) of the Ottawa Citizen reveals what’s at the core of Jumpin’ Jack Layton’s thought, Vladimir Ilyich he is not.  No ringing call for “Peace! Bread! Land!

New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton faces a problem that has plagued the left for 30 years: Nationalization and wealth redistribution have vanished from the intellectual climate.
Photograph by: Mark Blinch, Reuters, Ottawa Citizen

…Layton elaborated. “If you look at the new approach to energy, for instance, it’s all based on decentralization, particularly around energy efficiency. My buddy Amory Lovins likes to talk about negawatts. If you can save a megawatt cheaper than you can produce one, then go out there and save it. And by the way, you’ll also create more work by doing that. And we’ve got lots of negawatts out there. We’ve got lots of homes, we’re moving into the heating season, and they’re turning up their furnaces, if we have people out there with caulking guns, insulation, and new tripleglazed windows, all over the country, people apprenticing, young people having jobs in their local area, you wouldn’t have to fly to the tarsands for a three-week shift or a two-week shift and then go back home for a week. You’d be able to work right there in your own community, upgrading the building stock.”

Now, I like triple-glazed windows as much as the next guy, but we were talking about global politics at a pivotal moment in history. This sounded like the third bullet point on page six of a really boring campaign brochure. Could there be a clue here about why the left is failing to seize the day?..

The piece is Norman Spector’s “The column I wish I’d written” today. Well chosen.  As for the V.I. guy:

Nice threads, at least Jack has that in common.


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WikiLeaks: Jack takes his gloves off/Norman wonders if the NYT and Guardian covered the same story

Posted December 7th, 2010 in Canada, International, united states by MarkOttawa

Norman Spector was not best pleased yesterday:

“WikiLeaks’s mad attack on Canada”/Gadhafi Update

Now the good historian Jack Granatstein is some riled.  From a post at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute’s 3Ds Blog:

Close Down WikiLeaks Now

…the latest release of the US telegrams that detail the critical infrastructure in nations such as Canada that could cause most harm to American interests if destroyed takes me beyond my anger at WikiLeaks’ other releases. These cables are not merely embarrassing to outspoken envoys; these are criminal. The list of critical points is a gift to terrorists everywhere, put out in the open on Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks’ website. It demonstrates now that Assange’s aim is to cause harm, not merely to embarrass…

We are now at the point where the New York Times and The Guardian, for example, should stop publishing WikiLeaks’ material. We are now at the point where those who cooperate with Assange should be charged with aiding and abetting terrorism…

Meanwhile Norman today compares how the NY Times and Guardian covered the same basic story:

WikiLeaks exposes newspaper bias

Though troubling to many people, bias in the media is not always due to some dark plot – political or economic. In fact, it is inevitable. And the WikiLeaks document dump provides the perfect case study to prove the point.

Of all the newspapers in the world, four were provided privileged access by WikiLeaks to the diplomatic cables; in return, these newspapers promised to spread out and co-ordinate their publication dates on major issues. One paper, the Guardian, agreed to share the documents it received with the New York Times, which had refused WikiLeaks’s offer this time, though not on two previous occasions.

Both of these newspapers are generally considered to be quality broadsheets [The Guardian is now actually a "Berliner"]. Both would fairly be described as being on the liberal end of the political spectrum [The Guardian is actually a whole lot further to the left]. Both have had financial difficulties in recent years, but have striven to maintain their values in the current environment. And their Tuesday editions provide an excellent case study of media bias…

On the front page of today’s New York Times, under the headline “America Prods and Protests But Can’t halt Arms Trade,” one reads the following report:

Just a week after President Bashar al-Assad of Syria assured a top State Department official that his government was not sending sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah, the Obama administration lodged a confidential protest accusing Syria of doing precisely what it had denied doing…

In contrast, the Guardian report of the arms trade cables is on Page 6 of today’s edition and is headlined “US used Israel intelligence to block arms from Iran and Syria.” It is accompanied by a colour photo captioned: “Palestinian civilians and medics run for safety as Israeli missiles fall in Beit Lahia in the Cast Lead offensive in January 2009.” And the report – written by Mideast editor Ian Black – differs so markedly from that in the New York Times – both in what it includes and what it omits – that you have to wonder whether the two sets of first-rate journalists were reading the same cables…


“WikiLeaks’s mad attack on Canada”/Gadhafi Update

Posted December 6th, 2010 in Canada, Technology, united states by MarkOttawa

I think the headline on this piece by Norman Spector gets things exactly right; I wonder what Assiduous Asshole Assange’s Canadian admirers will make of this gratuitous flood of information that saves bad guys considerable research effort:

In February of last year, U.S. diplomatic posts were given one month by Washington to compile and forward an inventory of critical infrastructure and key resources in their respective reporting areas “whose loss could critically impact the public health, economic security, and/or national and homeland security of the United States.” The U.S. embassy in Ottawa – and the string of American consulates across Canada – were included in this “action request.”..

While, there has been considerable sympathy to date for WikiLeaks and for Mr. Assange, I suspect that some of this might erode once Canadians get a look at this latest cable, which is now widely available, and which sets out the juiciest targets in Canada for those looking to do harm to the United States. Moreover, once Canadians have had a chance to examine the list of sites it includes, I doubt that many of our compatriots will conclude that its compilation by U.S. diplomats serving in this country amounts to anything remotely connected to what we understand to constitute espionage:

Canada: Hibernia Atlantic undersea cable landing Halifax , Nova Scotia, Canada James Bay Power Project, Quebec: monumental hydroelectric power development Mica Dam, British Columbia: Failure would impact the Columbia River Basin. Hydro Quebec, Quebec: Critical irreplaceable source of power to portions of Northeast U. S. Robert Moses/Robert H. Saunders Power, Ontario: Part of the St. Lawrence Power Project, between Barnhart Island, New York, and Cornwall, Ontario Seven Mile Dam, British Columbia: Concrete gravity dam between two other hydropower dams along the Pend d’Oreille River Pickering Nuclear Power Plant, Ontario, Canada Chalk River Nuclear Facility, Ontario: Largest supplier of medical radioisotopes in the world Hydrofluoric Acid Production Facility, Allied Signal, Amherstburg, Ontario Enbridge Pipeline Alliance Pipeline: Natural gas transmission from Canada Maritime and Northeast Pipeline: Natural gas transmission from Canada Transcanada Gas: Natural gas transmission from Canada Alexandria Bay POE, Ontario: Northern border crossing Ambassador Bridge POE, Ontario: Northern border crossing Blaine POE, British Columbia: Northern border crossing Blaine Washington Rail Crossing, British Columbia Blue Water Bridge POE, Ontario: Northern border crossing Champlain POE, Quebec: Northern border crossing CPR Tunnel Rail Crossing, Ontario (Michigan Central Rail Crossing) International Bridge Rail Crossing, Ontario International Railway Bridge Rail Crossing Lewiston-Queenstown POE, Ontario: Northern border crossing Peace Bridge POE, Ontario: Northern border crossing Pembina POE, Manitoba: Northern border crossing North Portal Rail Crossing, Saskatchewan St. Claire Tunnel Rail Crossing, Ontario Waneta Dam, British Columbia: Earthfill/concrete hydropower dam Darlington Nuclear Power Plant, Ontario, Canada. E-ONE Moli Energy, Maple Ridge, Canada: Critical to production of various military application electronics General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada, London Ontario, Canada: Critical to the production of the Stryker/USMC LAV Vehicle Integration Raytheon Systems Canada Ltd. ELCAN Optical Technologies Division, Midland, Ontario, Canada: Critical to the production of the AGM-130 Missile Thales Optronique Canada, Inc., Montreal, Quebec: Critical optical systems for ground combat vehicles Germanium Mine Graphite Mine Iron Ore Mine Nickel Mine Niobec Mine, Quebec, Canada: Niobium Cangene, Winnipeg, Manitoba: Plasma Sanofi Pasteur Ltd., Toronto, Canada: Polio virus vaccine GlaxoSmithKile Biologicals, North America, Quebec, Canada: Pre-pandemic influenza vaccines.

Update: I wonder how much truth there is in this undated snippet from Spiegel Online:

Americans dispatched to Libya report in great detail on Gadhafi’s peculiarities, the airs and graces of his sons and the degree to which his advisers fear his wrath. For example, they closely monitored how wounded pride led him to take two Swiss citizens hostage and humiliate the Swiss government, how he almost forced Canada to its knees by threatening to nationalize the assets of PetroCanada…

In 2007 Petro-Canada renegotiated the terms of its presence in Libya, with new terms much more favourable to the latter. Might that be what the Crazy Colonel achieved?

Libya Taps Billions from Petro-Canada for Oil Access

Via Galea Hortus, who notes that “Our ever-vigilant media seem to have missed this!”  Canada’s National Whatever did however mention that “Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi likes the company of his buxom Ukrainian nurse.”


I’m dreaming of a white…

Posted December 4th, 2010 in International by MarkOttawa

…kingdom, not like the one I used to know:

Plus comment in the Daily Telegraph of a sort you’d be hard-pressed to find in our major media:

Cancun climate conference: the warmists’ last Mexican wave
The global warming scare was fun while it lasted, but the joke’s over, says Christopher Booker.

And guess who’s driving the final stake through Kyoto’s heart? From Spector Vision:

On Wednesday [Dec. 1], Montreal French-language newspaper Le Devoir reported a remarkable development in the climate change file: “Japan won’t agree to extend the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 even if that means isolating itself at the UN climate change talks next week in Cancun, Mexico, a senior Japanese negotiator said [last week].”..


The disgraceful failure of our major media’s Afghan mission/Coalition crazy/Bob Rae Update

Posted November 26th, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, Vancouver by MarkOttawa

Norman spectates acutely at the Globe and Mail online:

In the House of Commons on Thursday, Conservative MP Jim Abbott had some harsh words for Canadian news organizations:

A few days after returning [from Afghanistan], I was at a social event where MPs, senators and the national news media were mingling, and as I walked by some reporters, one of them asked me about my impressions from the trip. I told him, first, I was blown away with the complete enthusiastic dedication of the Canadian soldiers, aid workers and diplomats in Afghanistan … second, the coverage of Afghanistan by our national news media has been at best inadequate … the news coverage, or lack of it, on Afghanistan has actually distorted the impressions that most Canadians have, or many Canadians anyway. Canadian media coverage of Afghanistan for 10 years has been the equivalent of covering news in Canada and Canadian events by having three reporters driving around in a Vancouver police cruiser on Vancouver’s east side. What would that coverage tell Canadians about Canadians’ aspiration or the beauty of our land or our potential? This parallel is appropriate, because news organizations from Canada have had an average of three people in Kandahar, driving around in LAVs or confined to the air base.

Mr. Abbott, who is a strong supporter of Canadian involvement in Afghanistan, offered these observations during debate of a Bloc motion condemning the Government’s duplicity in extending the mission to 2014. Given the paucity of coverage of that debate today, you’d have to extend his remarks about the media from Kandahar to Ottawa, and include opponents of Canadian participation in Afghanistan as well.

While most of the points raised yesterday by Conservative and Bloc MPs were predictable (and sometimes disingenuous), two interventions stood out and are well worth reading. From the Liberal side, Bob Rae explained why Canada is in Afghanistan – and why we must remain there – with an eloquence and intelligence that we’ve seldom if ever heard from the Conservative Government. Virtually nothing of what he said is reported in today’s papers. On the NDP side, Jack Harris tore through the Conservative and Liberal positions with devastating facts and logic. I could find nothing of what he said in today’s papers…

So first we had that Conservative coalition with the Bloc and now one with the Liberals; the prime minister sure seems to be considering them coalitions a pretty Good Thing after all.


Media out! Of Afghanistan/People’s Daily Online Update

Update: An exception to Mr Spector’s strictures: John Ivison, in the National Post’s “Full Comment”, is also impressed by Bobbety in the Commons:

Why Canada is in Afghanistan, and has to stay

We in the Press Gallery rarely report on parliamentary debates – usually for the very good reason they are so dull that if you don’t knit, you’d be advised to bring a book.

But there are exceptions and Bob Rae’s speech in the House Thursday must rank as one of those. There are no Churchills in the current Canadian parliament — a politician who, according to his friend F.E. Smith “devoted the best years of his life to preparing his impromptu speeches”  — but Mr. Rae has no peers when it comes to eloquence on the floor of the House. During the debate on the future of the Afghan mission Thursday, he explains his own thinking and why he arrived at the conclusion Canada could not simply pull out…


The world does need more Canada–in Afstan/State of the battle/Danish note

Posted November 8th, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, International, united states by MarkOttawa

Further to this post,

Afstan: So maybe the government will keep some CF after all

a very useful round-up from Norman Spector:

Though the PMO leaks presented this new training mission as an option being considered, the Defense Editor of the Times of London, Michael Evans, was already reporting it on Monday as a fait accompli (behind the paper’s pay-wall): “At the NATO summit on November 19 alliance countries may have to agree to retain some troops for a training role right up to 2014. The Netherlands has already withdrawn its troops but there will be pressure on the Dutch to send trainers. Canada, whose combat troops are to leave next year, will also be expected to commit to the training mission.”

Over at the Washington Post, on the other hand, no decision has yet been taken but the pressure on Canada was said to be intense:

“The United States, France and Britain have said to the Canadians ‘Don’t waste your experience’ in Afghanistan” by leaving before the mission is completed, said the European official, one of several who discussed the private meetings on condition of anonymity.

“If the Canadians agree,” he said, “maybe the Dutch will come back with trainers.” ..[more on the Dutch here]

Also on Monday, according to a report behind the pay-wall of the Wall Street Journal, NATO will release a report showing that “Significant progress has been made in building up the Afghan security forces, but continuing attrition among police officers and a dearth of midlevel military leaders pose major challenges … Enthusiasm within NATO for long-term mentoring of Afghan security forces appears to be eroding, and military leaders hope to persuade alliance leaders to continue their training commitment….According to the report, NATO needs 900 more trainers to build up such specialized training.”

Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal’s sister publication, the Times of London, is also reporting this behind its pay-wall:

The U.S. commander in Afghanistan has drawn up a colour-coded timetable to hand back control to local security forces, The Times has learnt.

A handful of areas in Afghanistan have been stamped “green”, signalling that they have been earmarked for a handover in the spring. The plan, which was drawn up by General David Petraeus, is to be presented to NATO leaders at the summit of alliance leaders in Lisbon on November 19.

The colours range from green to grey, the latter being the most problematic, indicating that the handover is more than two years away. Provinces such as Helmand, Kandahar and Uruzgan in the south, and Kunar in the east, fall into this category. … The plan, which is expected to be given full support at the summit, will allow President Obama to fulfil his pledge to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan from July next year.

Most of the U.S. combat troops are in areas where there is continuous confrontation with the Taleban and other insurgents. None of the U.S. Marines in Helmand will be going home next July. They, and the British troops in Helmand, expect to be part of the campaign for another three or four years.

In today’s National Post, Senator Pamela Wallin writes:

The man who has twice commanded Canadian troops in Afghanistan says the war is “winnable.” He should know – he’s recently back from the heat of combat where he saw the combined effect of the NATO-U. S. troop surge and a more able Afghan Army. … General Vance’s optimism echoes that of Canada’s current commander on the ground in Afghanistan, Brigadier-General Dean Milner, and General David Petraeus, the top NATO commander there, who has said that operations are proceeding “more rapidly than was anticipated.” The Canadian Forces’ unique combination of warrior and humanitarian skills is also bringing – and keeping – Afghans onside. General Vance says that as a population becomes hopeful, it has a “galvanizing effect.”

In Washington, however, the New York Times reports considerable skepticism and an “intense debate” concerning reports by the military of progress in Afghanistan:

In Kandahar, NATO officials say that American and Afghan forces continue to rout the Taliban. In new statistics offered by American commanders in Kabul, Special Operations units have killed 339 midlevel Taliban commanders and 949 of the group’s foot soldiers in the past three months alone. At the Pentagon, the draft of a war assessment to be submitted to Congress this month cites a shift in momentum in some areas of the country away from the insurgency.

But as a new White House review of President Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan gets under way, the rosy signs have opened an intense debate at the Defense Department, the White House, the State Department and the intelligence agencies over what they really mean…

Even the Danes have been pushing us–and with some considerable justification as John Ivison notes at the National Post’s “Full Comment”:

The apparent change of heart by the Harper government came after Gitte Lillelund Bech, the Danish Defence Minister, visited Ottawa last week and met with Mr. MacKay…

Ms. Bech said she believed that Canada will commit to keeping troops in Afghanistan. “My impression from meeting him [MacKay], is that he agrees we share the same values and are fighting to eliminate safe havens for terrorism. The goals haven’t changed but I fully understand you have to have a majority in Parliament supporting what you’re doing.”

The Danes have suffered 38 casualties in Afghanistan — more, as a proportion of the country’s population, than any other contributor to ISAF [emphasis added, more here]. Yet there is no debate in Denmark about pulling troops out of the country, ahead of the 2014 deadline envisaged by the Kabul Conference.

Ms. Bech said that her government has already committed to training police officers and the military after that date.

“We will be there [Afghanistan] until the end,” she said.

Have you seen one blinking thing about the Danes and their casualties (they are fighting with the Brits in Helmand) in our self-obsessed major media? No wonder most Canadian effectively know nothing about the war other than dead Canadian soldiers, ramp ceremonies, and the Highway of Heroes.

By the way, I imagine most CF trainers in a continuing mission would be attached to the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan at Kabul.

Update: One example of the sort of non-combat training we could provide is at the ANA staff college, see this post from Kabul (with photos) by the estimable Brian Platt at his trip blog for the Ubyssey.


The world needs more Canada? Or, the US at least needs Mexico

Posted November 4th, 2010 in Canada, Climate Change, International, united states by MarkOttawa

Read this Washington Post story and see who ain’t there:

Wariness abroad of new order in U.S.

“Canada’s National” whatever is certainly running up the wariness flag as fast as it can:

With new Congress, Canada can expect trade, border flare-ups

But wasn’t it the Democrats who were trying to block the planned new pipeline for Alberta oil sands crude, besides hammering the sands themselves? So why the Globe’s instant wariness?  Creating more “news” to suit their agenda?  And Postmedia News is no better with a piece that really has very little to do with trade, and in which Jumpin’ Jack Layton tells a real porkie:

Republican tide likely to hit Canadian trade
Obama also ditches plan to legislate carbon cap-and-trade system

NDP leader Jack Layton said he suspects trade relations will continue to dog the Canada-U.S. relationship…

He predicted Canada-U.S. trade will emerge as an issue in the run up to the presidential election in 2012, as it did during the campaign that ended with Obama’s election two years ago…

What blinking balderdash. If Canada-U.S. trade (as opposed to Mexico and NAFTA) was an issue in 2008 not one American in a thousand knew it. Canadians really need to get a grip on reality instead of stupidly navel gazing.

Otherwise some sense from Norman Spector about the Americans needing fewer Canadian pols:

Dumbest Canada-U.S. initiative ever

In short, can we now agree that it’s a good idea for Canadian politicians to stay out of U.S. partisan politics entirely — however tempting it might be to curry favour back home by being seen to stand up for our values in the United States?


Sick joke

Posted October 31st, 2010 in Canada, International by MarkOttawa

Norman spectates:

–Meanwhile, Iranians are fearful for Canadians

Canadian ‘climate of fear’ disturbs Iranians

Four Iranians scheduled to speak at a controversial conference on peace in Ottawa last week were detained for three hours at Customs while Canadian security agencies vetted the texts of their remarks, one of the organizers said.

“They had to open their computers. Everything was shown to them,” said Paul Maillet, the Green party candidate in Ottawa-Orléans, who organized the Thursday event with three other current and former Green candidates.

He said the Iranians “were actually quite disturbed. They didn’t realize that this kind of climate of fear existed here. They thought Canada was a little more open.”..


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“Norman’s Spectator” daily again

Posted October 19th, 2010 in Blogging by MarkOttawa

Well, sort of, according to Mr Spector’s whim.  Main weekly review will now be on Mondays.


Soft on power, soft in head

Posted October 2nd, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, International, united states by MarkOttawa

From Norman’s now weekly spectating:


Obama official praises old Liberal world view

Axworthy said he’s spent a lot of time in Washington lately, so he was not completely surprised by what Brimmer had to say.

“I’ve found that the Obama administration in terms of its world view and practices it tries to apply seems to accept the basic premise of the human security policy we had,” said Axworthy, who is now the president of the University of Winnipeg.

Memo to Lloyd: Especially the targeted assassinations

CIA Steps Up Missile Strikes in Pakistan


AfPak droning on/Reaping Update


There’s a responsibility to protect us from Pink Lloyd and Soft Rock


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