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Wanted: Green spooks

Richard Black | 13:54 UK time, Thursday, 30 July 2009

Bored with the same old office nine-to-five routine? Looking for something a bit more unusual and - well - daring?

Happy if potential rewards include uncovering the latest Mr Big in the field of environmental crime?

In that case, a competition recently launched by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) might be worth a look.

Perhaps more than any other environmental group, EIA uses covert techniques (I could give the full details but if I did, I'd have to eat this computer) to uncover illicit acts.

Whereas Greenpeace marches into battle with flags hoisted, video cameras running and a banner reading "look at me!" to the fore, the EIA operative is more likely to enter in false moustache and dark glasses and emerge with some stealthy film that can be used in a court case or simply to expose something on the dark side of green.

Ivory tusksOne of the group's earliest successes involved filming an ivory carving factory in Dubai, which they suspected was also smuggling ivory into the state.

Operatives posed as a crew making a commercial film for the tourist industry, and were allowed access to the premises next door.

One of the team was eventually able to hide inside a cardboard box on a fork-lift truck. As it hoisted him off the ground, he was able to keep the camera rolling, eventually gaining a clear view over a partition wall into the ivory carving room next door.

Illegal forestry has regularly been a focus of the agency's operations. On more than one occasion, posing as timber buyers, staff have literally supped at the top table with some of East Asia's least scrupulous businessmen, gaining insights impossible to get from a more conventional distance.

The tactics have been used by other groups in similar fields, such as Global Witness, an NGO with a remit to link environmental wrong-doing with human rights violations and corruption.

But this sort of operation has become pretty rare in the environmental movement - partly, I suspect, because it's expensive and brings no guarantee of returns, but also because the nature of the big issues nowadays means there are often more effective if less exciting ways of obtaining the same information.

What's the point in illicitly filming what's being said during a cabinet meeting on climate policy - even if you could - when a nod, a wink and the price of a beer can get you the same information immediately afterwards for a lot less work?

Spies have come in from the cold.

The same trend, no doubt, is sweeping through journalism - across the board, including the environmental sphere.

Some leading UK journalists are so concerned about this trend that they recently launched The Investigations Fund, which aims to help reporters wanting to get undercover (with or without trilby hat) and research the kind of original story that needs a prolonged assault.

There's nothing like that - yet - in the campaigning sector. But there you are. If you're a would-be Woodwood or Bernstein with a greenish tint, or if you're the kind of activist who yearns for the old days of more direct action, why not have a look at the EIA's Experience Undercover competition and maybe win yourself a "spy camera" and a day working with the "professionals".

Just keep it under your hat if you're planning to enter...


or register to comment.

  • 1. At 2:15pm on 30 Jul 2009, JunkkMale wrote:

    Kind of a 'green grass' sort of deal?

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  • 2. At 3:33pm on 30 Jul 2009, The_Hess wrote:

    Nice idea, perhaps a guidline on how to research a story, gain access via the Freedom of Information Act etc for budding journalists would be useful.

    Programs like dispatches and panorama really do stimulate thought and discussion in a healthy way.

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  • 3. At 4:10pm on 30 Jul 2009, JunkkMale wrote:

    I'm sorry, my comment was in dubious taste, given the good works that can be achieved.

    It's just that, having read this 'Three lucky winners will win an exclusive opportunity to spend the day at EIAs Islington headquarters, I did have some trouble relating to some undoubtedly powerful investigative scoops. I just had visions of a slightly ajar recycling bin in North London more than gun-toting poachers stashing their hordes. However I do believe the danger to the perpetrators to that of those who expose them is probably reversed.

    On a more serious note, whilst acknowledging a new raft of digitally narrative enhanced and hence discredited 'news journalism', given the choice, between filming what's being said during a cabinet meeting on climate policy and a nod, a wink and the price of a beer's worth of information immediately afterwards, I know which, as a punter, I'd still offer more credence to, even if 'more work'.

    Not that this has stopped a few 'reporters' in possibly even more vital areas of objective news gathering of late.

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  • 4. At 5:37pm on 30 Jul 2009, MangoChutney wrote:

    One of the team was eventually able to hide inside a cardboard box on a fork-lift truck. As it hoisted him off the ground, he was able to keep the camera rolling, eventually gaining a clear view over a partition wall into the ivory carving room next door.

    Lucky the Health and Safety Mafia didn't catch him doing this stunt!

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  • 5. At 7:50pm on 30 Jul 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    Crossing dangerously polluted rivers and toxic industrial waste sites to find a story about selling animal parts is usually based on self directed egos tied to some cause. The business of business has become out of control. Governments chasing tax dollars to create monuments to themselves allow almost anything. We have a crisis in ethics. In the Confucian model, the family was responsible for the behavior of all its members. When a misdeed was done, all were responsible. Now no one is responsible for anything or anyone. The scales are way out of tilt. Justice isn't blind, it is on a paid holiday financed by those who profit from these endeavors.

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  • 6. At 10:07am on 31 Jul 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Just in case anyone at the BBC sees this and can fix it. The link to this page under "More from this blog..." is broken. It points to "bored_with_the_same_old.html" whereas the actual name is "wanted_green_spooks.html". Not a big deal, but frustrating for those who use the links for blog hopping.

    All the best; davblo2

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  • 7. At 11:13am on 31 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    So - be a spook and see the world?

    No thanks:

    "Nearly 2500 years ago, Sophocles wrote, "Do nothing secretly; for Time sees and hears all things, and discloses all." And Gautama Siddhartha, the Buddha, once said "Three things cannot long stay hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth".

    - Manysummits -

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  • 8. At 11:19am on 31 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To the BBC:

    I'm getting an "Error 404" message when I try and sign in???

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  • 9. At 11:39am on 31 Jul 2009, manysummits wrote:

    Fresh hope for world's fisheries

    Boris Worm et al of Dalhousie has a new article in 'Science', and for a change there is some good news to report (abstract linked below)


    - Manysummits -

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  • 10. At 01:12am on 01 Aug 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To 'ghostofsichuan' # 5: You wrote:

    "We have a crisis in ethics."
    From Wikipedia - postmodern ethics:

    "Ethics are exercised by those who possess no power and those who support them, through personal resistance."


    The tie to this blog is ethics, or the lack of them. I am reading Erna Paris's "The Sun Climbs Low", about the formation of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and in particular, George W. Bush's administration's vehement opposition to it. The isolation of the Center for Constitutional Rights, the passive acceptance by the American public and Congress of the almost instantaneous dismemberment of long held constitutional beliefs and protections via The Patriot Act - these read like a horror story, but they are not fiction - we all saw them happen.

    In pushing for an International Court of the Environment, to protect ourselves really, I am beginning to see how I am looking for some higher authority to 'make it all right.'

    The Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution - I remember being in the basement of the US Capitol building in '94, reading the original constitutional amendments as they were brought into the framework of US law over the years. I have parchment copies of the speeches of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysberg, of The Declaration of Independence, with handwritten signatures affixed at the bottom.

    Many overturned at another stroke of the pen by a group of what Ben Okri called "barbarians at the highest levels of state."

    Are courts and police really just the pawns of the rich - to protect their interests?

    I don't know anymore. What has happened in recent memory can hardly be credited, much less understood or accepted. The Holocaust, the fire bombing of Dresden, Wounded Knee, Russian Afghanistan, American Afghanistan, before them British Afghanistan, the Japanese death march, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Rwanda, Bosnia, the Sudan - ad infinitum. The trashing of the environmant, the dumbing down of society.

    What is one left to believe in? Where is Saint-Exupery's 'responsible man'?

    And now an environmantal group seeks to make green covert operations a remedy, much as I wished to see a new court 'make all right.'

    But if ethics are only exercised by those with no power, perhaps there are still ethical choices being made everyday, by individuals. Perhaps when justice systems become corrupted, or governmants, or institutions and corporations, perhaps these are not ethical considerations, but more akin to criminal activities and abuse of power.

    Perhaps one is simply splitting hairs - being a 'sophist' in the worst sense of the word?

    There is a principle I just learned the name of - jus cogens, or 'compelling law'. My understanding is that this is actually akin to what I term natural law, such as I have found in the mountains. It would seem to equate to ethics as described by the Wikipedia link above.

    Just thinking out loud, and in plain view.

    - Manysummits -

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  • 11. At 06:02am on 01 Aug 2009, TJ wrote:

    To Manysummits #10. You wrote:
    To 'ghostofsichuan' # 5: You wrote:

    "We have a crisis in ethics."

    Im having a terrible time with ethics at the moment. As you know I believe AGW is a scam and the biggest con in human history. However, I have lined myself up to take advantage of the Taxman and Malarkey bill to push the Cap and Trade tax to wreak havoc on US business. Like previous of this kind (Y2k and Sarbanes Oxley) I have helped my clients to weather these distractions and now this latest scam offers a way to my comfortable retirement.
    Am I a parasite taking advantage of others woes and more to the point, on a cause that I believe to be a total scam? Im really suffering inside. Can you give me any help?

    On your Environmental Court Im assuming there will be some clause that exempts those well meaning folks from trying to be green but perpetrating a totally disastrous opposite effect. We have discussed these well meaning folks a few times and Richard has written about them so I think you will get my drift.

    OT: wheres YW? Just read the latest blogs and not a peep. I may come back a bit more. Unpleasant fellow.

    From a sunny and chilly SF

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  • 12. At 4:54pm on 01 Aug 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To timjenvey #11:

    Emapthy, Ethics and 'Jus Cogens'

    'Tim', I would highly recommend the new book I am reading, Erna Paris's "The Sun Climbs Slow."

    I have just read the interviews the author had with the judicial scholar Sherif Bassiouni, the Vietnam vet and West Point professor on law Gary Solis and Robert McNamara, former United States Defense Secretary.

    All three interviews are Pullitzer Prize winning material, in my opinion, very moving and enlightening, and all about the title I began this blog with - and all about your, and a collective 'our' problem.

    I am naturally ambitious, I think, and able, in some respects. But I have always found the ladder-climb and the pursuit of power or business for business's sake, as ghostofsichuan puts it, too unpalatable to make a career out of it. And so we struggle for a living, and in the struggle, have found much comfort.

    Much like the climbing of mountains. One soon learns that 'the grunt' is a large and unavoidable part of summiting. One can complain about the grunt, or one can come to see in each well placed footfall a small work of art. I think redemption lies with the latter view.

    "You can't change the world," we are told.

    I don't believe it.

    "If you think you can, or you think you can't - you're right!"

    This I believe

    As for the proposed Environmental Court - I am very much opposed to the very idea of 'crime and punishment'. Let me explain.

    I think a great leap forward was made in South Africa, where, if memory serves, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandella came up with a better answer. Prosecute and illuminate YES, but then forgive.

    - Manysummits -

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  • 13. At 4:21pm on 02 Aug 2009, manysummits wrote:

    "Might for Right" - Thoughts on a Sunday Morning

    The sky is filled with smoke here in Calgary, and I cannot even see the mountains to the west. It has been like this for several days now.

    The fog of war, and the duplicity of civilized man also obscures the Sun.

    Intellectual progress, as exemplified by the rule of law, is perhaps a necessary adjunct of modern society, but it has become entirely clear to me that it is insufficient.

    Again I find the artists way out in front in clarity of vision.

    Here is Kwai Chang Caine ("Kung Fu"), Clint Eastwood, and John Steinbeck's "The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights" ("might for right".)

    Here also is Edward Gibbon's 'man of action', Arnold Toynbee's 'superhuman individual', and Cicero's 'noble and invincible spirit.'

    We have trampled upon not only the environment and the world's citizenry, but also the rule of law, and all of this in the last few years.

    We have bailed out the banks, increased the war (?) in Afghanistan, and conceded again to 'business as usual.'

    More "spooks"?

    Or is it time for a world government backed by a world military?

    Or simply for "being like the river, which flows around the rock?"

    Or both?

    - Manysummits -

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  • 14. At 05:32am on 03 Aug 2009, TJ wrote:

    To Manysummits #13.
    Your mood sounds depressed as you think of your perceived impact of humans on this planet. Remember that nature itself is the master of destruction. We do not even come remotely close. Nature has two strengths which are hers and hers alone, creation and then destruction. Thats what makes the world go around.
    So, in part, I agree very much with: "Eat, Drink and be Merry, for tomorrow we die".

    * Eat - and give thanks for every bite.

    * Drink - and give thanks for every drop

    * Be merry - All the time

    * For tomorrow we die - The ONLY thing we can be certain about.

    I would also add:

    * Respect, honor and cherish everyone and everything.

    * Endeavor to increase wisdom

    * Rejoice and mourn with a whole heart

    If the sun comes up tomorrow then rejoice for another day. If it doesnt it will not matter anyway.

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  • 15. At 5:38pm on 03 Aug 2009, manysummits wrote:


    Revisionist or 'more accurate history' will do that to you.

    It's why most people don't partake - it involves a certain amount of pain, and it is hard. Much like mountaineering, which is presumably why most people don't partake here either.

    However, swings of mood are where the energy is, and seeming chaos is where the creativity lives. Smooth and stable, a goal of many, is a false god.

    I agree with live for today, but not at the expense of tomorrow, where our children will live. It is possible to both live for today and to create a bright future for our children. It's why the Yurok Indians just north of you had the "Brush Dance" ceremony, which celebrated the fact that being true to oneself often meant giving your best to someone else. We seem to have forgotten where true happiness resides in our too busy always in a rush civilizations.

    - Manysummits -

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  • 16. At 6:04pm on 03 Aug 2009, manysummits wrote:


    As for nature being the master of destruction and creation, I would reply that I consider the human being a part of nature, and we are thus both creators and destroyers, as is nature's way. But this is not the question. The question is:

    What is right, and what is wrong? Or, what now?

    - Manysummits -

    PS: We had a marvellous day canoeing yesterday on the Reservoir and the Elbow River which feeds it. Cloudrunner cycled to the canoe-club without training wheels, stunt-riding all the way, and took his first 'trick' in the stern of the canoe, with Dad at his feet. Underacanoe took pictures of all this, and all three marvelled at the simple pleasures of the outdoors. Even the pervasive smoke from the forest fires to our west cleared by late afternoon, and the Sun shone from a summer sky in all its splendour. Giant Beavers were a topic of discussion, with a disbelieving Cloudrunner quickly dispelling any 'spooky' stories by his Dad.

    - Head Beaver-Tale Storyteller -

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  • 17. At 6:12pm on 03 Aug 2009, manysummits wrote:

    Covert Operations

    It is both interesting and coincidental? that the acronym for the CIA's covert operations division is SAD (Special Activities Division).

    - &*#%~ -

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  • 18. At 04:33am on 04 Aug 2009, TJ wrote:

    To manysummits #13 you wrote:

    The sky is filled with smoke here in Calgary, and I cannot even see the mountains to the west. It has been like this for several days now.

    You sound down on this. Let me help you here.

    Fire is one of natures awesome destructive forces with which she cleanses and then awesomely creates anew. This is part of the natural cycle and is sometimes hindered by man wanting to prevent it with unnatural systems like fire breaks and squirting fire retardants all over it. Many of our life forms only survive because of this natural process. Plants and trees are also greatly enriched by the increased vital gases like CO2 in which at present they are living in an environment which is greatly depleted.

    So do you feel better now? See, its just a matter of altering your perspective. Rejoice with the smoke as nature takes her course (best not to breath too deeply though).

    As for your other question: What is right, and what is wrong? Or, what now?
    Lets wait and see if the sun comes up tomorrow and see what adventures nature has planned for us. The answers will be driven by that so I will rest easy tonight having also been pleased with my day.


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  • 19. At 12:16pm on 04 Aug 2009, davblo2 wrote:


    ICE-less justice?

    "Crackdown against 'environmental criminals' follows Greenpeace report"


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  • 20. At 2:07pm on 04 Aug 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Richard Black says, "Whereas Greenpeace marches into battle with flags hoisted, video cameras running and a banner reading 'look at me!' "

    Not always apparently...

    From the link in #19...
    "...since the Guardian revealed a three-year undercover investigation by Greenpeace in June."

    From whence...
    "The move follows a three-year investigation by Greenpeace into the trade in cattle products such as meat and leather traced to illegal farms across the Amazon region"

    There's spooks for you!


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  • 21. At 11:58pm on 04 Aug 2009, manysummits wrote:

    Hello davblo2, #'s 19 & 20:

    I read your Greenpeace links. I have a decent imagination, but it strains to believe the companies 'made aware' of the illegal deforestation were caught unawares. They were just 'caught.' But, it's not as if we didn't know either, we the public.

    My investigations into 'justice' are continuuing. The more I learn, the more I am convinced my instincts were right on the money. Truly,

    "In the society of men, the best man becomes a sinner." (Vedic)

    Ralph Nelson translated the "Popul Vuh" of the 'ancient Maya.' In his introduction, he says:

    "In Freudian terms, the more civilized a people, the more removed from instinct, and thus the more neurotic the individual."

    I wonder if this might help explain the crimes against humanity prosecuted at Nuremberg in the 1940's, in the former Yugoslavia, in Rwanda, and the long list of crimes against humanity which have never been prosecuted? A unifying theme is the advanced civilizations which have committed these atrocities in the past, both near and distant, and are committing them today.

    Your Geenpeace examples may not qualify as technical crimes against humanity, but they are nonetheless, in my opinion, just that. Powerful, wealthy corporations, working in tandem with official agencies, in full knowledge, did decide, with malice aforethought, to continue anyway, and their contingency plans should they be 'caught' were no doubt already in place.

    My lowest common denominator is now 'jus cogens,' or compelling law, which I think of as natural law. That is, it is within all sane human beings, and accessible at will.

    Like Robert Pirsig's "quality," natural law is almost impossible to define. It occurs to me both quality and natural law have this nebulous character in common with Lao Tse's "way" or "path," with the Greek 'arete' and with the Vedic 'dharma.'

    There is a principle in science, that in doing an investigation, one actually changes the subject.

    We labor and labor, write powerful words, perhaps enshrine them in constitutions and the law, and then disregard them at the drop of the proverbial hat, whenever it suits the powers that be.

    A few good men step forward, and fight as best they can.

    Walt Whitman said as much when he wrote:

    "Knowest thou not there is but one theme for ever-enduring bards? And that is the theme of war, the fortune of battles, and the making of perfect soldiers."

    But there is still something distinctly distasteful in covert and clandestine operations, almost as if one has sunk a level or two or three. To summarize - we didn't need Greenpeace to tell us this, or to document it. We all know it, and we all knew it before.

    Implicit in Richard Black's phrase, which you quoted, and I will again, is a certain admiration - 'jus cogens.'

    "Whereas Greenpeace marches into battle with flags hoisted, video cameras running and a banner reading 'look at me!' "

    - Manysummits - in the rain, apparently all week! -

    And wishing for the old Greenpeace back!!

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  • 22. At 00:53am on 05 Aug 2009, manysummits wrote:

    Addendum to #21 - to illustrate a couple of points:

    Bolivia - past and present:

    "The second major economic blow came at the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s and early 1990s as economic aid was withdrawn by western countries who had previously tried to keep a market-liberal regime in power through financial support.

    In April 2000, Bechtel signed a contract with Hugo Banzer, the former President of Bolivia, to privatize the water supply in Bolivia's third-largest city, Cochabamba. Shortly thereafter, the company tripled the water rates in that city, an action which resulted in protests and rioting among those who could no longer afford clean water. Drawing water from community wells or gathering rainwater was made illegal.[22][23] Amidst Bolivia's nationwide economic collapse and growing national unrest over the state of the economy, the Bolivian government was forced to withdraw the water contract."

    Prospects for the future?

    Bolivian Indians in historic step (BBC)

    "Mr Morales has championed Bolivia's indigenous people, who for centuries were banished to the margins of society and did not enjoy full voting rights until 1952.

    But many opposed to Mr Morales and the new constitution believe he is polarising the country by dividing it along along racial lines."

    So when, over the course of the last centuries, the indigenous people "were banished to the margins of society and did not enjoy full voting rights until 1952," the country was what - not polarized?

    Duplicity and doublespeak, a characteristic trait of a civilized people.

    Perhaps it is time to rediscover our instincts, to become less neurotic, and to change the modern corporations' legal structure, to remove their legally mandated psychopathy?

    - Manysummits -

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  • 23. At 10:36am on 05 Aug 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    Another case for the court?

    "James Hansen and Darryl Hannah among those opposing open-cast coal extraction that destroys mountains and forests"

    "Mountaintop removal begins with the clear-cutting of entire forests and then the shearing off up to 1,000 vertical feet of mountain peak. This exposes thin seams of coal that cannot easily be reached by underground tunnels."

    "The struggle against mountaintop removal is also proving an uncomfortable test of Barack Obama's green credentials."

    I wondered whether the BBC had covered this and a quick search found (13 July 2009)...

    "Battle raging in US mining country"

    "Most of the small communities have disappeared too. Residents have been bought out, or driven out by the noise of blasting and large mining machines."

    It shouldn't take much undercover work to see them take the top off a mountain, or rather, 500 mountains according to the Guardian report. Apparently it's all approved anyway; so no secret.


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  • 24. At 11:54am on 05 Aug 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To davblo2 #23:

    I just watched the video contained in your first link - the one that features Mr. Gibson.

    From the same article:

    "Robert F Kennedy Jr, the environmental lawyer and son of the assassinated presidential candidate, recently accused Obama of presiding over an "Appalachian apocalypse"."

    Where is the Environmental Protection Agency? We keep allowing ourselves the delusion of believing we are somehow protected, when the actual case is we are placated just enough to keep us working, and making others fabulously wealthy, or revelling in their blatant abuse of power.

    I am reminded of a Candaian songwriter and singer, Gordon Lightfoot, and his "Don Quixote":

    "I have seen the strong survive, and I have seen the lean grow weak."

    - Manysummits -

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  • 25. At 2:45pm on 05 Aug 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    manysummits #24: Where is the Environmental Protection Agency

    They must be in hiding...(video and transcript)

    Seas of Shame

    Just one snippet for example...
    "These magnificent Albatross go thousands of miles just to deliver a meal to their chicks. And you can go to Midway Island and see over a 100,000 carcasses of Laysan Albatross chicks with their stomachs brimming over with plastic, some as much as half a kilogram."

    ...and who's doing something about it?

    "Project Kaisei consists of a team of innovators, scientists, environmentalists, ocean lovers, sailors, and sports enthusiasts who have come together with a common purpose."
    ...realised by...

    "From August 2-21, a group of doctoral students and research volunteers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego will embark on an expedition aboard the Scripps research vessel New Horizon to explore the problem of plastic in the North Pacific Gyre"

    ...and from a blog on the Scripps site...

    "Our time at sea is limited by both the New Horizon’s schedule and by the expense of operating a scientific research vessel. In our case, the New Horizon’s schedule means that we have to start in San Diego and end in Newport, OR. And thanks to grants from the UC Ship Funds and our collaborators Project Kaisei, we have the funds to utilize the New Horizon for 19 1/2 days."

    The people with money and power must have other priorities.
    Another case for ICE?

    BBS'c report on the project is here.


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  • 26. At 11:37pm on 05 Aug 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To davblo2 #25:

    Yes, another case for "ICE."

    We have surely explored a lot of territory here on Richard Black's blog, haven't we davblo? It's a good feeling, even if we are not shaking the world.

    I am remembering John F. Kennedy's "Peace Speech." He took pains to point out on more than one occassion that the treaties or agreements that really work are in the interests of both, or all parties involved.

    When the true costs to us, the world citizenry, of our environenmental barbarism become better known, that may be the time when an International Court of the Environment becomes a real and enduring part of our world culture, and not merely the fantasy of a few bloggers.

    "Ghostofsichuan," in post #5, wrote:

    "In the Confucian model, the family was responsible for the behavior of all its members."

    Admittedly, with forty lashes prescribed by a Sudanese court for a woman who dared to wear trousers, a 'world family' is hard to envision. Or maybe not! Maybe we most resemble a dysfunctional family. That is surely something many can immediately relate to. Of course, transforming ourselves, or even one family, into a 'fully functional' unit is a hard nut to crack.

    Will it really take a world catastrophe to effect this transformation?

    - Manysummits -

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  • 27. At 11:02am on 06 Aug 2009, manysummits wrote:

    More Spooks - or More Action?

    "Population increase, changes in eating habits and demand for bio-fuels are putting farmland at a premium worldwide."

    "But for investors like Susan Payne, chief executive of Emergent Asset Management, farmland in sub-Saharan Africa is a hot bet. "

    - From "Africa investment sparks land grab fear"

    I have seen and felt injustice all my life. Who among us has not?

    To engage in covert and clandestine escapades is to avoid the issue - we do little enough about what is out in the open, like this land grab headlined above.

    And so we tilt at windmills, some of us, with what little extra strength we have.

    To jr4412: What say you?

    - Manysummits -

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  • 28. At 12:06pm on 06 Aug 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    manysummits #27: "we do little enough about what is out in the open..."

    Some take action at the front line.

    Going on now...
    "Mainshill solidarity camp is one of the front-lines in the resistance to coal exploitation in the UK."


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  • 29. At 5:18pm on 06 Aug 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    From... " 'Slaughter' fear over poaching rise "

    Concerning (in part)...
    "Patrick Omondi, who is head of species conservation at the Kenya Wildlife Service, said that the number of elephants killed for their tusks in his country more than doubled between 2007 and 2008. The latest figures for 2009 suggest it may double again by the close of this year."

    Something else to follow up...
    "2009 has also seen a string of spectacular seizures of contraband ivory made by authorities in eastern Asia. ... Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 programme Last Chance for Africa's Elephants?, Peter Younger of the wildlife crime unit at the global police agency, Interpol, said: 'These three seizures over that short a period of time are the largest seizures I've seen since I've been in this business.'"

    It continues later...
    " At Interpol, Peter Younger argues that much more concerted co-operation among African and Asian countries is necessary.

    'In this particular area of crime, we're losing because the people we are tasked to deal with are much more co-ordinated than we are. We have a mechanism to co-operate. Interpol is the only international police agency, but there are other platforms. We are just not using them enough.' "

    I wonder why not. Funding? Priorities? Policy?


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  • 30. At 5:28pm on 06 Aug 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    manyummits #26: "We have surely explored a lot of territory here on Richard Black's blog, haven't we"

    Yes the internet is a tremendous tool; it's just amazing, and rather frightening, how easy it is to find so many cases of environmental abuse. I just wonder where the list stops.


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  • 31. At 5:30pm on 06 Aug 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:


    I am never sure of your positions but my response to your ethical conduct. If it feels wrong, it probably is. The business world has decided that business is business and ethics are ethics and they are exclusive. Cap and Trade is the maximum that was acceptable to the business community. Nothing gets enacted without their approval, they basically own the legislative bodies. The gnashing of teeth over cap and trade is over-acting. Will energy companies add charges to customers bills and say they are based on cap and trade even though they are not, probably. Recent studies, and most of these studies have not been funded because neither governments nor industry wants the information, show that children growing up in areas of higher concentrations of air pollution have lower IQ's as they reach school age. Other studies show the relationship between public health and general illness in populations related to air pollution. The question is, and has been, should energy companies produce a product that injures the public health? Should they also either reduce the polluants or pay for those injuries? As with most toxic waste sites, the private companies have gone and the public is left with paying for the clean-up. Private sector profits usually have some assoicated public costs. On a societal level the discussion is more about what is private and the private sector can only operate in a public manner as they are regulated and use public resources. The unfortunate turning of the tables has occured. When Western democracies began they were democratic/republic systems with a captialistic economic system, and now they profess to be captialistic systems that happen to be democratic. Note: In a democracy, the people can decide to have whatever economic system they choose. The business community professes that the demoncratic system is somehow dependent on them.

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  • 32. At 5:32pm on 06 Aug 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    #29 cont'd

    Environmental crime

    "INTERPOL’s mission is to assist its member countries in the effective enforcement of national and international environmental laws. In this way we can contribute to the ongoing conservation of the world’s environment, biodiversity and natural resources."

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  • 33. At 02:00am on 07 Aug 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To davblo2 #30: ("where the list stops?")

    As 'simon-swede' has pointed out, courts are perhaps a 'last resort.' As such, the high profile courts, such as the International Criminal Court, or the supreme courts in various countries, restrict themselves to high-profile cases out of necessity, and never address many or most of the individual crimes of which the high-profile case is but one example.

    In the words of Lieutenent Colonel Murray C. Bernays, in the prelude to the forties Nuremberg trials, international law should reflect the "conscience of humanity."

    Thus our high courts would serve to establish and illuminate 'guiding principles.'

    As 'ghostofsichuan' has pointed out, both our western democracies and even our justice systems are perhaps owned or overly influenced by big money, i.e., big corporations.

    This leaves 'us' in rather a strange place. For the first time in history, civilizations 'could' technically do without representative government, thanks to the internet. I don't see any movement in this direction however. It would inconvenience the majority of the public, addicted, coincidentally, to the various distractions provided to them by big business.

    I think they call this a 'Catch 22' situation.

    The thread of this blog has changed, and the change has been prompted in no small part by the "spook"/covert/clandestine imagery.

    I wish to go back to a time when hope still prevailed, before it was almost utterly crushed:

    "Robert Kennedy was easily the most religious of his brothers. Whereas John maintained an aloof sense of his faith, Robert approached his duties to mankind through the looking glass of Catholicism. In the last years of his life, he found great solace in the metaphysical poets of ancient Greece, especially the writings of Aeschylus. At his announcement of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Kennedy quoted these lines from Aeschylus in a memorable speech:"

    "He who learns must suffer. Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, and against our will, comes wisdom by the awful grace of God."

    - Manysummits, in Calgary, where the Sun is about to return -

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  • 34. At 05:30am on 07 Aug 2009, TJ wrote:

    To ghostofsichuan #31
    You say: “I am never sure of your positions”

    It’s quite simple. “AGW is a scam and the biggest con in human history”.
    And here I am all set to make a load of bucks out of it. Here’s a link that sums up a lot of the issues with “cap and trade”.
    Should we (I include many of my colleagues in this business) be saying “this is wrong” or keeping quiet so we can make our fortunes on the backs of this scam. I’m beginning to adopt the approach that I will be a Lone Ranger to come and help my clients plan maximum avoidance tactics.

    My other position has always been standing up for the plants. Here’s an interesting perspective that encapsulates my thoughts:

    I hope this helps.
    Thanks and best

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  • 35. At 05:40am on 07 Aug 2009, TJ wrote:

    To ghostofsichuan #31

    And forgot to ask: Is your name somehow connected with the earthquake last year? Interested in the connection.

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  • 36. At 08:06am on 07 Aug 2009, MangoChutney wrote:

    what do you think of this?

    essentially the link between the earths magnetic field has been shown to have a strong correlation between the strength of the earth’s magnetic field and the amount of precipitation in the tropics, and lends support to Svensmarks theory on cosmic rays

    the debate is not over

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  • 37. At 09:02am on 07 Aug 2009, MangoChutney wrote:

    another nail in the AGW coffin?

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  • 38. At 09:40am on 07 Aug 2009, MangoChutney wrote:

    hardtalk's sackur lays into greenpeace director:

    even the bbc are trying to nail greenpeace - have i died and gone to heaven? lol

    I'm begining to like the BBC again :)

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  • 39. At 00:19am on 09 Aug 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    MangoChutneyUKOK #38: "even the bbc are trying to nail greenpeace"

    I've not watched "Hardtalk" before, but it seems to be "part and parcel" of the program that the interviewer gives the interviewee as "hard a time" as possible. Hence the name.

    As far as I could see, Gerd did a very good job of standing up to a "hard" grilling. He didn't get "nailed" at all.


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  • 40. At 1:55pm on 09 Aug 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To davblo2 #39:

    I watched the hardtalk/Greenpeace video, and I concur with your assessment entirely.

    Ministers deny torture collusion

    "Tom Porteous, from Human Rights Watch, said there should be a judicial inquiry.

    "There are specific detailed and consistent allegations that have been made by my organisation, Human Rights Watch, by Amnesty International, by Reprieve, by other organisations and they need to be answered.

    "Today again in the papers government ministers are here issuing blanket denials but not addressing the specific allegations and so there really is a need for a judicial inquiry."

    Inquiry call

    Amnesty International UK campaigns director Tim Hancock described the Foreign Affairs Select Committee report as "yet another voice in a growing chorus demanding greater transparency over the UK's involvement in 'war on terror' human rights abuses".

    He also demanded a full, independent inquiry."

    I just happen to be reading sections relevant to the topic above in the riveting "The Sun Climbs Low" by Erna Paris, on the formation of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and I will say that I believe this independent investigation should go ahead. I can also tell you that Canada is implicated, our RCMP commissioner having been forced to resign over similar allegations.

    "Green Spooks"? Clandestine and covert versus open and transparent.

    - Manysummits -

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  • 41. At 4:11pm on 09 Aug 2009, manysummits wrote:

    Climate Science & Crimes Against Humanity

    To 'jr4412 & davblo2':

    Climate science occupied me up until a few months ago - until we co-authored the "Mayday Declaration."

    Unexpectedly, this has propelled me in another direction, that of international law and justice - following hard upon the necessary investigations into the workings of the United Nations as required by 'jr4412's insistence upon reform of the UN.

    The process of "denial" is active in both climate science and crimes against humanity, as it turns out. The problem is largely psychological in both - and reminds me of Freeman Dyson's admonition that "sanity, in its essence, is nothing more than learning to live in harmony with nature's laws."

    Interesting word that - nature's "laws" - "Jus Cogens," compelling law, in international justice speak.

    So jus cogens, nature's laws, justice and sanity may be regarded as David Suziki's "Sacred Balance."

    Is this the rock - the stable platform - that will allow humanity to move forward, rather than backward?

    Will we, the world's citizens, embrace international norms of law and justice, and apply them across the board - to climate science, to population growth, to environmental degradation, and most importantly, to crimes against humanity in all its forms? Are the above not related more closely than we had imagined?

    Are all of these not manifestations of the degradation of the human body and spirit, a phenomenon of progressive degeneration, culminating in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries' massive and continuuing irresponsibility.

    There are only islands of relative peace and prosperity on our planet at this time, and as the poet John Donne has written, with a modern addition:

    "No man [or nation-state] is an island, entire of itself;
    every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main...
    any man's death diminishes me,
    because I am involved in mankind.
    And therefore never send to know for whom
    the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

    - Manysummits - going to the Zoo today -

    PS: In post #40, that title should read "The Sun Climbs Slow" (not Low).

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  • 42. At 10:41pm on 09 Aug 2009, TJ wrote:

    Reading some of the recent posts it occurred to me that we are short on a very important unchanging element. BASIC HUMAN NATURE.

    I’m not a practicing Christian but I do find the bible has some very useful content on the wisdom of the matter.

    Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
    • To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
    • A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
    • A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
    • A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
    • A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.
    • A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
    • A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
    • A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

    And a few verse that keep us in awe and humbled:

    Ecclesiastes 8:17
    • "...all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it."

    Job 38:4
    • Where was thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou has understanding.

    In fact the whole of Job 38 is enough to make sure we keep our egos in check and put us in our place in this life.

    And to end:

    Ecclesiastes 7:1
    • "...the day of death better than the day of birth."

    Enjoy what’s left of your weekends.

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  • 43. At 11:48am on 10 Aug 2009, manysummits wrote:

    Climate Change in Action (from the BBC this morning)

    "A "snakes and ladders-like" situation has emerged in Scotland, where some species have climbed further northwards while others slide towards being wiped out."

    Very good article with lots of 'meat.'

    More Spookiness

    "US to target 'Afghan drug lords'"

    "The US has put 50 Afghans suspected to be drug traffickers with Taliban links on a list of people to be "captured or killed", the New York Times reports.

    Two American generals have told the US Congress that the policy is legal under the military's rules of engagement and international law, the paper says."

    So now the military is telling Congress what the law is. That's an interesting development. The generals are not named.

    Shades of the fall of the Roman Empire, where the Senate was reduced to a rubber stamp.

    - Manysummits -

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  • 44. At 8:50pm on 10 Aug 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:


    Take the approach that is best for you. Denial of planet transformation or the role played by industrialization is simply a refusal to accept things that counter your existing beliefs. If you decide to make money on the events, so be it. The fact that money can be made tells you something about the process. Scams are private sector producers going into communities, receiving tax breaks, leaving a toxic mess and running out of town for the local taxpayers to cleanup. Of course this cannot be done without assistance from state and local governments. The government created plans always reflect the interest of the regulated industry, bought and paid for. To say we have the least corrupt government is not an honor. You sound like bomber pilots I have known, you don't see the results of your efforts so do not feel the impact that you have. Being wrong on a bombing run means a lot of civilians die, being wrong on climate change means the same thing. Your confidence in your position does not allow for the others who already suffer the consequences. You may remember the issues in Sichuan after the earthquake were about the poor construction of schools hwere many children died. Corrupt government officials and contractors allowed this all to happen. The parents of those children when petitioning the government for an investigation were arrested. This is the world, China, USA, only different in styles. You breath the pollution from China every day. Governments don't solve crisis, revolutions do.

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  • 45. At 00:30am on 11 Aug 2009, manysummits wrote:

    "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it."

    - Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861.

    "Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law."

    - Preamble #3; United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, December 10, 1948.

    The rule of law known before the "Patriot Act" having been effectively overturned in the United States, we turn to International Law.

    Whereas I have blogged in the past about the courts being a "last resort", I now amend this - obviously the rule of law and the courts are not the "last resort," revolution and violence are.

    At this time however, the public does not appear to share the opinion of the scientific community on several issues, among which are climate change and global warming, population growth as a problem, and species extinction as a threat to themselves. Nor is the idea of "Limits to Growth" on the radar screen.

    The question then becomes: When will the tide turn in favor of the 'alarmists', and what will it take to convince a credulous and cynical public, dedicated to more and more?

    - Manysummits, awaiting 'timjenvey's reply -

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  • 46. At 06:36am on 11 Aug 2009, TJ wrote:

    ghostofsichuan #44

    Your reply gives me the impression that you have had little experience in real world rough and tumble.

    Very surprised at your experience with bomber pilot’s when you say:
    “You sound like bomber pilots I have known, you don't see the results of your efforts so do not feel the impact that you have”.

    Folks I know who have been involved with such acts live with the tangled emotions for the rest of their lives. I would ditch those folks that you know and in a more natural world I would probably take them out as a safety measure for their quirky behaviour.

    So you do link Sichuan to the earthquake. I thought it might be something to do with the ebb and flow of the glacier. Do you have personal experience of the aftermath?

    manysummits #45

    You say “awaiting 'timjenvey's reply”.

    Your question appears to be around your statement: “obviously the rule of law and the courts are not the "last resort," revolution and violence are”.

    Totally agree. That’s what history, human behaviour and those with wisdom teach us. Best get to grips with it or disappear in the dust in the rear view mirror.

    However, to give context, as I have quoted before when you asked if my philosophy was: "Eat, Drink and be Merry, for tomorrow we die".

    In part yes. Very much:

    * Eat - I give thanks for every bite.

    * Drink - I give thanks for every drop

    * Be merry - All the time

    * For tomorrow we die - The ONLY thing we can be certain about.

    I would also add:

    * Respect, honour and cherish everyone and everything.

    * Endeavour to increase wisdom

    * Rejoice and mourn with a whole heart

    It’s late and must hit the sack now.

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  • 47. At 09:10am on 11 Aug 2009, simon-swede wrote:

    A (somewhat) tongue-in-cheek note to Timjenvey

    You wrote "“AGW is a scam and the biggest con in human history” And here I am all set to make a load of bucks out of it."

    You can agree or disagree that AGW may be happening and what, therefore, is an appropriate response - but concluding that AGW itself is real doesn't constitute a scam. A scam is a fraudulent business scheme.

    However seeking to "make a load of bucks" out of something you "know" to be false, that is a scam!

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  • 48. At 10:24am on 11 Aug 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    More for timjenvey...

    The philosophies you put forward appear to be both short term in the extreme, as in #46 "For tomorrow we die", and dismissive, as in #42 "A time for ...[anything you like to justify]".

    Some are also very "hollow"; as in #46 "I give thanks for every bite". To whom? Certainly not to the people who created the food.

    They aren't the kind of conceptual views appropriate for someone working in a business concerned very much with planning, in fact quite the opposite.

    So if I had to guess, I'd be blunt and suggest they are a "front" to cover lack of confidence in longer term philosophies.

    What do you say?


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  • 49. At 10:46am on 11 Aug 2009, davblo2 wrote:

    manysummist #45: "When will the tide turn...?"

    The ways power defends itself against the turning of the tide...

    Aung San Suu Kyi 'guilty'

    "Ms Suu Kyi has spent nearly 14 of the past 20 years in detention."

    Cases Involving Charges Related to State Secrets
    (deference to ghostofsichuan)

    eg. "In the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake, Zeng published essays on overseas websites decrying the collapse of school buildings and suggesting that corruption may have played a role in increasing the severity of the destruction. On June 9, 2008, Chinese police detained Zeng on suspicion of leaking state secrets overseas. As of July 20, 2009, Zeng remains detained at Mianyang Detention Center."


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  • 50. At 11:47am on 11 Aug 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To "Tim" #46:

    Actually I was waiting for your reply to 'ghostofsichuan', but since you have replied to both, all the better.

    I've noticed businessmen often co-opt the sayings from the real "rough and tumble" of the world. The fact is, business pretends to a reality that it has never been a part of. There is no 'blood in the streets' when a Wall Street deal goes south. It's "wannabe" time.

    As such, I think 'ghostofsichuan's remark about bomber pilots is right on the mark. You will notice that 'progress' in the military now has us utilizing drones to target whomever we wish. Collateral damage - now there's a term for infamy!

    No - 'ghostofsichuan' is entirely right, in my opinion. I quote from post #44:

    "Denial of planet transformation or the role played by industrialization is simply a refusal to accept things that counter your existing beliefs."

    We are all hoping that your wishes for transformation are heartfelt. The considered and thoughtful reply from 'ghostofsichuan' to an earlier post of yours is exactly the type of humanity in action that we all so sorely lack in many aspects of modern life.

    Look at the posts from 'davblo2' Tim.

    What is it you want? A comfortable retirement? Is that your highest aspiration?

    I once knew a climber, now comfortably retired. When I offered him the 'lead' out of courtesy, he stunned me with, "I've too much to lose."

    No kidding, all that accumulated wealth gone to waste! I suppose I had only my life to lose.

    That's where you stand Tim right now - in those shoes. Is that where you want to stand?

    - Manysummits -

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  • 51. At 5:01pm on 11 Aug 2009, TJ wrote:

    simon-swede #47
    “Scam”. I agree with your definition. Maggie Thatcher scammed it to defeat the miners and push nuclear agenda. Al Gore scams it to make his personal fortune. Science scams it to get funding. And now governments are scamming it to tax us. If Obama, for instance, does not get his tax (which he says he must do to save the planet) he will not be able to pay for health care and fund the trillions that he has already spent.

    davblo2 #48
    "I give thanks for every bite". To whom? My lucky stars. I don’t take things for granted.

    I believe long term planning is useful. To have a goal and vision if you like. In reality, how many 3 or 5 year plans have you seen come anywhere near to hitting their mark. Not many I vouch. Life just is not that predictable and we must be able to be fleet of foot to change and not allow ourselves to be weighted done with stuff like bureaucracies.

    manysummits #50

    “As such, I think 'ghostofsichuan's remark about bomber pilots is right on the mark”.
    Maybe for the odd freak but not my experience. Have you ever spent time with one?

    Business is part of the natural world it’s how we do things. Transactions are an essential part of life. We don’t live for free and can’t wait for somebody else to provide for us.

    Got to get work on my scam today. I have decided to offer help in organizing my client’s portfolios for avoidance and minimize collateral damage (as you say – “now there's a term for infamy”) to their business.

    Maybe later

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  • 52. At 5:09pm on 11 Aug 2009, TJ wrote:

    How about a thought for the day?:

    "The future, according to some scientists, will be exactly like the past,
    only far more expensive".
    John Sladek

    Have a great day.........

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  • 53. At 11:57pm on 11 Aug 2009, tbates wrote:

    Well, this is a pretty creative way to expose the environmentally corrupt. I'm all for it. However, using extreme undercover tactics to reveal the ugly truth in situations where a wink, a nod and the price of a beer would suffice just as easily seems a bit of a waste. Why not save this amount of effort for the *big ones*-- the nuclear power plants and coal mines of the world. Further, the game show-like approach to recruitment into direct combat is also a tad disturbing. At least Greenpeace leaves the heavy lifting to the most qualified candidates..and leaves the curbside membership recruitment for the fresh-faced college grads.

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  • 54. At 03:27am on 12 Aug 2009, TJ wrote:

    To davblo2 #48:

    I missed this in your comments this morning: "A time for ...[anything you like to justify]".

    You missed the first verse:
    Ecclesiastes 3:1
    • To everything there is a sason, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

    So you missed the whole meaning.

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