Jul 212014

Subject: “Where they make a desert, they call it peace.” Tacitus

mind boggling!

Informative & tragic.

The Business of War: SOFEX – YouTube


Wave canon, wtf!


Sonic weapon
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Long-Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) in use on the USS Blue Ridge

Sonic and ultrasonic weapons (USW) are weapons of various types that use sound to injure, incapacitate, or kill an opponent. Some sonic weapons are currently in limited use or in research and development by military and police forces. Others exist only in the realm of science fiction. Some of these weapons have been described as sonic bullets, sonic grenades, sonic mines, or sonic cannons. Some make a focused beam of sound or ultrasound; some make an area field of sound.



 Posted by at 1:57 pm
Jul 202014

It has taken ten years.  Lockheed Martin Corp is OUT of the Canadian Census and Statistics operation.

A huge number of Canadians, most of them anonymous, are to thank.

The main tool was “spreading the word” through community grapevines – electronic media but also conversations with friends.  Ultimately, that is what counted – the formation of a critical mass of citizens who know about Lockheeed Martin.

An excellent companion-piece, a 20 minute you-tube.  You’ll find Lockheed Martin, once again:   The Business of War: SOFEX  

(UPDATE:  Number of views = 1,248,100.  As at July 22, 2014 @ 1:30 pm PST)

New to the story of Lockheed Martin at StatsCan?  see the Static Page  about Lockheed Martin and its intrusion into Canadian Government.


Canadians were not told that their efforts were successful:

  • the decision by Statistics Canada (Lockheed Martin has to go) was not announced
  • the reason for riddance? . . .  conscientitious objection by so many Canadians


How do we know?

  • TRANSCRIPT  of the testimony by Yves Beland, Director of Census Operations at the October 2013 trial of Audrey Tobias.  (Audrey was 89 years old at the time of her trial over Lockheed Martin’s involvement in Statistics Canada.)

Excerpts from Transcript, Yves Beland:

1.      Transcript, Tobias trial establishes Lockheed Martin is OUT

2.     StatsCan math is wrong on non-compliance. It’s 11%, not 2%

The information that Lockheed Martin is “out of the picture totally”  was uncovered during preparation for the trial of  (Karen) Eve Stegenga, July 17, 2014 in Powell River, B.C..  The issue was the same.  Eve would not fill in her census form because of Lockheed Martin’s involvement.


Three women a threat to their communities, had to be prosecuted: 

  • Even though StatsCan KNEW that Lockheed Martin’s role in the Census will be ended within two years (the next Census in 2016),  and the decision had been made by the time of the Tobias case in October 2013,

they went ahead and prosecuted:

  • Audrey Tobias, 89 years old
  • Janet Churnin, 79 years  old  and
  • (Karen) Eve Stegenga,  a self-employed yoga instructor, 37 years old.


The three women are obviously a threat to other people in their communities.  Hence deserving of prosecution.

  • (Karen) Eve Stegenga received a conditional discharge (July 17, 2014).  She is to do 25 hours of community service.
  • Janet Churnin received a conditional discharge (December 2013).  50 hours of community service.
  • Audrey Tobias was found not guilty (October 2013).


It is good to see the Justice Department putting tax money to good use.  The cost of any one of these trials is very high – preparation, consultations, judges, prosecutors, court workers, facility costs, opportunity costs (the money could have been put to better use).

As reported above, by 2011 non-compliance was 11%  (not the 2% reported by StatsCan).

Hopefully, after the Stegenga case, the Justice Dept “gets it”:  the collective conscience of Canadians is strong.   They are not going to obtain compliance by using the threat of prosecution.

Prosecution Services wanted a $250.00 fine, community service, and probation for Eve Stegenga.  The intent was deterrence for other Canadians.  It seems to me to be a backward argument.  They will get higher rates of compliance, not through coercion but by getting rid of the cause of the conscientitious objection:  Lockheed Martin.    StatsCan has done that.  Why they continued to prosecute the Lockheed cases is beyond me.   If it’s just to show who is Lord of the Manor, well, they may want to re-assess.   The Judges are not upholding their lordly status (two discharges and one not guilty).



Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The Fundamental Freedoms of

  • Conscience and
  • Privacy of Personal Information

have not been upheld by the Courts,  in the Lockheed Martin – Census trials.  In the case of Conscience, two Judges ruled that the connection between the individual’s conscience and the Lockheed Martin contracts is too remote.   They referred to case law.

Madame Justice Mocha of Ontario Provincial Court, Churnin Judgment:

The connection between the administrative requirement and Lockheed Martin is simply too remote . .

From my perspective:

  1. Canadians in large numbers disagreed with the two Judges.
  2. Point of departure:  the Justice system relies primarily on our rational faculty.  A collective of citizens will employ a more wholistic approach;  rational will be tempered by conscience, history, intuition, family life experience, stories …
  3. The Judge in the Audrey Tobias case:

Page 6 (in an entertaining)  R. v. Tobias judgment:

This is an area best left to Parliament and the Provinces, not to the Judiciary.

Judge Khawly creatively found a way to find Audrey “not guilty”.

I note that Parliament is supposed to draw its authority from citizens.

4.   In the end, citizens stood firm.  The Courts nor Parliamentarians defended our Charter Rights.  Citizens did.  Lockheed Martin is out of the Census Operations, Statistics Canada.

It was nothing more than expressions of conscience (a collective conscience) that led to the removal of Lockheed Martin.

The objections came in by the thousands, right from the beginning marked by the letter from the Nova Scotia Quakers (Feb 2004).

The numbers through the ten years were enough to cause StatsCan to act (“scaled back”), and then to act again, until Lockheed is completely out.

At trial the INDIVIDUAL Right to Freedom of Conscience was denied, because the connection between the conscience of the individual and the Lockheed Martin contracts is too remote. … Not so, it is quite intimate.

We are human beings.  We know right from wrong, in spite of the fact that our rational faculty  (that most “fragile” of our faculties) might sometimes forget it.  We have a Charter Right to protect that thing – - conscience – -  which gives us our humanity.

Further to the moral argument:  Canada has an obligation to the International community to uphold the covenants we make with them.  By contracting with a known producer of cluster munitions, illegal under laws championed into being by Canada, Canada is robbed of its moral authority.

The Prosecutor, in the general rebuttal of Stegenga’s claim to protection under the Charter Right to Freedom of Conscience, put forward that Stegenga’s view is “idiosyncratic”.  The word means “peculiar to the individual”.   But Canadians in large numbers hold the view that collaboration with Lockheed Martin is wrong.  Perhaps the idiosyncratic view is that it is right.

More than one in ten households did not comply; i.e.  1.6 million households did not comply with the Census   Lots of those knew nothing about Lockheed Martin.  But thousands upon thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, did know.

The Information below used in the Trial of Eve Stegenga may be of value to others -  the obstacles to be overcome, a few select documents about Lockheed Martin, the Resistance, and the Charter Arguments:

The Trial of (Karen) Eve Stegenga


BEFORE the Trail started, Eve negotiated a Statement of Agreed-Upon Facts with the Prosecutor.  In the end there from four agreed-upon facts  (out of 27 put forward).  The negotiations and the final Statement were contributors to Eve’s final success.


1.  In the Lockheed Martin - Census trials. the Justice Dept routinely claims that Lockheed Martin Canada is a different company from Lockheed Martin USA.  (Hence, the crimes committed by Lockheed Martin cannot be used at trial.)

It was critical to establish the role of Lockheed Martin USA.   It was done with a screen capture of Lockheed Martin’s webpage (below) that says:

Our Census Business Practice successes include . . .  Canada’s 2011 and 2006 Census.


In case you can’t read it:

The Lockheed Martin Census Business Practice team is a premier international provider of integrated census data collection, processing and analysis solutions. Two decades of unmatched experience, resources, methods, systems and commitment ensure that our census solutions are flexible, secure, accurate and cost effective.

Our Census Business Practice successes include the U.S. 2010 and 2000 Census, the United Kingdom’s 2011 and 2001 Census, and Canada’s 2011 and 2006 Census.

 Lockheed Screen Cap2


2.   Eve was successful in getting the Transcript evidence from the Tobias trial (above) accepted as Exhibits for her case (evidence).   She did a nice job of pointing out that the testimony saying “Lockheed Martin is totally out” and the math related to rates of non-compliance (11% actual, not 2%) came from the Director of Census Operations, i.e. from senior management at StatsCan, not just from “a Government employee”.


3.  The Judge accepted copies of the Quakers‘ 2004 letters of objection to Lockheed  Martin’s involvement in the Census (on letterhead)  2004-02-15: Nova Scotia Quakers to Minister Responsible for the census re Lockheed Martin contracts 

Eve drew particular attention to the last sentence, Feb 15th letter:

Our Monthly Meeting will also be sharing this letter with other Friends’ Meetings, as well as the general public.

(You can see the opposition to the contracts for Lockheed Martin spreading across the country from the excellent research and argument that went into this letter from the Nova Scotia Quakers in 2004.   Word got to Ontario – - the trials of Todd Stelmach and Darek Czernewcan.  It reached Saskatchewan – - my trial (Sandra Finley).   Right through to B.C., the trial of (Karen) Eve Stegenga.  Not to mention all the other citizens involved.)


4.   Documents submitted, that didn’t necessarily have to be (they are not evidence in the sense of “facts” that have to be proved.  They are accepted (Legislation).  We submitted a document nonetheless:

International Conventions, Cluster Munitions, Land Mines  (as used in Trial of Eve Stegenga)

Charter Rights & Oakes Test was submitted to the Court, after skimming the Judge’s decision in R v Oakes and determining that the wilipedia description of the Oakes test seems to use most of the exact wording in the judgment, and would be sufficient from a lay person’s perspective.

Eve submitted Stegenga charter arguments.pdf , drawing on documents used in the Churnin trial, doing her best with little time and no training.


5.  Documents viewed by the Court, but not accepted as Exhibits:



a.  Directory of U.S. Military Rockets & Missiles 

Lockheed’s cluster munitions – -   the production of cluster munitions is against Canadian and International Law, so how is it that Lockheed Martin receives Government contracts?

b.   From Lockheed Martin’s U.S. website, LongShot, Cluster Munitions  (I was going to scan and upload my copy here, but it’s information overkill – the preceding establishes that Lockheed Martin produces cluster munitions).

 c.   US: Wages Of Sin – Why Lawbreakers Still Win Government Contracts

by Christopher H. Schmitt, U.S. News & World Report
May 13th, 2002   (very good article)


(Back-up copy)

d.   Project on Government Oversight (POGO) Reports  (2009, 2007, 2003) establish a very clear pattern of Lockheed Martin.  They reinforce the preceding article, Wages of Sin.

POGO, as submitted to Court, please see:



Two-fold.   First,  Eve needed to counter a statement by Justice Mocha in the Churnin case:

Page 6, Line 30:

There is no evidence before me to show that Lockheed Martin is not a trustworthy vendor.

Secondly,  citizens cannot defend themselves against something they don’t understand.

Understand the modus operandi of Lockheed Martin.  They will have brought their ways and means with them to Canada.

The details in POGO’s  The Politics of ContractingLockheed Martin  (at the above link) tell the story.  Headings in the Report:

Money Spent by Lockheed Martin to Influence Decisions and Secure Future Federal Contracts   ///   Senior Government Officials Turned Current and Former Company Executives for Lockheed Martin   ///   (Same, except)  Turned Board Directors for Lockheed   ///   (Same, except)  Turned Registered Company Lobbyists for Lockheed

e.   The Iraq War, Brought to You by Your Friends at Lockheed Martin


f.      The War Business:  Squeezing a Profit from the Wreckage in Iraq   Democracy Now, October 2003.  http://www.democracynow.org/2003/10/30/the_war_business_squeezing_a_profit

 (Back-up copy)


The intention here was to give the Court a sense of the widespread resistance to Lockheed Martin’s involvement – - not a compendium, just a smattering.


2008-06-25 Excellent editorial in Kingston Whig Standard, “A matter of conscience”, Trial of Todd Stelmach


Census objectors come in many different forms, Guelph Mercury, July 28, 2010

 Submitted to the Court  (the Guelph Mercury article, with commentary by Darek)

 c.  No charges sought for 35,000 (200,000) natives who ignore census,       Toronto Star, Jan 15, 2008

(NOTE:  By 2010 the number, non-compliance by First Nations, was 200,000 – - see the precding article from the Guelph Mercury)

The Court received a copy of the on-line article – not accepted as an Exhibit.

 d.   Porter:  Why the 2011 census calls for some civil disobedience,  Toronto Star,  May 10, 2011


(Backup copy)

 e.   Census not Bombs  (Example, one of many on-line mobilizations over Lockheed Martin in Census)


f.   Census Alert U.K.  (Resistance in other countries, not just Canada)


Missing from this archive: 2 pages of information on the Canadian Campaign.   They were included in the pages submitted to the Court.

Backup copy(see Item #2. ) 


The Judge asked about some things.  For example,  “It looks as though this one is about the same thing (Lockheed Martin in Census), but in the U.K.  Is that correct?”

She carefully figured out a way to put minimal demands on Eve’s finances.  The Prosecutor asked for (deterrence for the wider public)   $250 fine and community service.  Probably something that came down from upper levels, a direction to her.

Before leaving the Court Room, the Judge commended Eve on her professionalism, the quality of her input, her decorum in Court, and said that the community was very fortunate to have her (Eve).  She also said words to effect that it was uncommon – - refreshing – - to encounter someone with such commitment to values – - it was very good for Eve to leave Court with that.   The Trial, including the numerous attending at Court in the lead-up, was very stressful for Eve, you will know how it is – - defending yourself takes a lot of time.  You are up against people who studied the Law for 3 years and then honed their skills over a career.  The Prosecutor has the Federal Justice Dept to draw from, and is salaried. Eve is self-employed as a yoga teacher, doing reiki, etc.  Trying to find time to figure out which end is up in the Justice system.

In her questioning, the Judge drew out the fact that Eve is self-employed.  She stated a clear understanding of the costs imposed by defending herself against the charge of non-compliance.   (There were 9 occasions when Eve had to present herself at the Court House, over the 8 or 9 months.  She lives a good half-hour away in a smaller community.)   The Judge said that Eve had already paid lots in fines, including lost income as a consequence of having to work on her defence.  All in all,  Eve was fortunate that the particular Judge and the particular Prosecutor were assigned to her Trial.  Both were very considerate,  did their jobs well, under a system that (as the Chief Justice says)  needs to change.  It is not designed to serve the average citizen;  it is not affordable to defend yourself against the forces of the Justice Dept.  Most people capitulate to the coercion, in recognition that they stand little chance in Court, even though their case might be one of innocence and merit.

 Posted by at 5:15 pm
Jul 202014

Evidence is from the transcript of the testimony of

Yves Beland, Director of Census Operations at Statistics Canada, in the

Trial of Audrey Tobias, Toronto, October 2013


Non-compliance with the Census grew to 11% by the 2011 Census.

1.6 million households did not comply

out of 14.6

StatsCan reported this as a 2% non-compliance rate when in fact it’s 11%.

Not all of the increase was due to growing awareness of Lockheed Martin’s involvement, but ENOUGH of it that the Government had to end Lockheed Martin’s involvement.   See   2014-07-17 Transcript, Tobias trial establishes Lockheed Martin is OUT 


The following was accepted as an Exhibit in the Stegenga Trial, July 2014


8   Q   Oh sorry, 14.6 million dwelling addresses that were ultimately identified?

A.   Yes.

Q.   And so 14.6 million requests were made . . .

A.   Yes.

Q. . . . for completion of the form?

A.   Yes.

Q.   Okay.

A.   We received a little bit over 13 million completed questionaries for 98 per cent response rate.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

1.6 million questionnaires were not returned

1.6 out of 14.6 million = 11%



 Posted by at 1:15 pm
Jul 202014




Toronto, October 2013




Exactly. We descope as soon as we heard those concerns. We took the matter very seriously and we descoped their (Lockheed Martin’s) mandate right away.    Details down below.

On the NUMBERS, see  StatsCan math is wrong.  The information is also from the Tobias Transcript.  Non-compliance grew to 11%, not 2%, the figure used by StatsCan.

The Crown (StatsCan and the Justice Dept) need to answer the question:

WHY the continued prosecution of citizens who object to Lockheed Martin’s involvement, when StatsCan has taken steps to remove Lockheed Martin completely?

RE:  Trial of (Karen) Eve Segenga,  Powell River BC, July 2014:

the Judge gave Eve a conditional discharge.  The Transcript information was an Exhibit in the Trial.










On October 3rd, 2013, at Toronto, Ontario


The testimony of the StatsCan witness Yves Beland, Director of Census Operations Division, tells

  • they were getting resistance to Lockheed Martin’s involvement from the beginning (2004) during the development period.
  • StatsCan reacted by “scaling back” substantially on the Lockheed contract, for the 2006 Census.
  • StatsCan cut again, down to $20 million for the 2011 Census.
  • (Resistance continued, as documented elsewhere.)
  • Lockheed will be completely out of it by the next census (2016).


As far as I know, Canadians have not been told this. The source is the transcript of the testimony under oath by Yves Beland, Director of Census Operations, witness in the Tobias trial.

So, no more contracts for Lockheed Martin, BUT REGARDLESS, StatsCan and the Justice Dept proceed with the prosecution of Eve Stegenga (and Audrey Tobias and Janet Churnin) who objected to Lockheed’s involvement.

PAGE 26:

10  A. Lockheed was awarded the contract in 2008.

Q. Okay. And what was the amount of the contract?

A. For the 2011 census, Statistic Canada took over a lot of the responsibilities that Lockheed had in the 2006, so the total amount for the 2011 contract was 20 million dollars.

Q. Okay. And so you said then that they were also awarded a contract for the 2006 census?

20   A. Yes, correct.

Q. Okay. And that it was scaled back in the 2011 census?

A. Okay. Yes, it was scaled back …

Q. All right.

25  A. … 2011 census.

Q. All right. Can you … maybe we’ll talk first then about the 2006 census.

A. Okay.

Q. Can you tell us what the role was in

30  that census?

A. So their initial role was to … was much larger than what they ended up doing up at the

Page 27:

end, and I’ll get through that, but their initial role was to build the census processing system. So giving us the … a solution to handle and combine information coming from paper, internet and telephone, altogether.

5 So they basically built the census population system from scratch.

In addition to that, they … they handled the printing contract and they handled specific

10 IT solution contract as well. But initially they were suppose to … they were suppose to acquire the space to do the processing of the paper questionnaire. They were suppose to equip and fit that space to conduct the processing system. They were suppose to hire the human

15 resources to actually do the work during the processing activity. And they were providing the management aspect of those activities. The four items I just mentioned, they did not do it. In 2004, because of some … some Canadians including members of the 20 parliament, they were concerned regarding the Patriot Act and then they … their concern was were not … were not true. But it was perceived that the US government, through the Patriot Act, could access confidential information provided by Canadians that

25 would … that would be collected using the Lockheed Martin system.

Q. So what you’re saying then is to alleviate those concerns, Lockheed Martins role for the

2006 census was limited?

30 A. Exactly. We descope as soon as we heard those concerns. We took the matter very seriously and we descoped their mandate right away.


10… that was part of the deal with Lockheed that they would build it. They would do a little bit less in 2011 and they’re out of the picture totally for the next one. So Stat Can has taken over the entire maintenance and setting up of the census processing system.

 Posted by at 1:02 pm
Jul 132014


Contributed by

“Artists use lies to tell the truth. Yes, I created a lie. But because you believed it, you found something true about yourself.”

Alan Moore

Common Uses
To embarrass your target; to correct the public record; to expose corporate malfeasance; to reframe an issue.
When trying to understand how a machine works, it helps to expose its guts. The same can be said of powerful people or corporations who enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else. By catching powerful entities off-guard — say, by speaking on their behalf about wonderful things they should do (but in reality won’t) — you can momentarily expose them to public scrutiny. In this way, everyone gets to see how they work and can figure out how better to oppose them.This is identity correction: exposing an entity’s inner workings to public scrutiny. To practice it, find a target — some entity running amok — and think of something true they could say but never would — something that’s also lots of fun. What you say can either be something your target would say if its PR department went absent or berserk (modest proposal), or things they would say if by some miracle they decided to do the right thing (honest proposal). Instead of speaking truth to power, as the Quakers suggest, you assume the mask of power to speak a little lie that tells a greater truth.The modest proposal approach — which the Yes Men and others have used on many occasions to impersonate companies and parody them — can be a hit-or-miss affair. It usually involves an absurd and extreme — but logical — extension of the entity’s current practices, like when the Billionaires for Bush put Social Security up for sale on eBay, or when the Yes Men suggested that CEOs in the West would want to remotely monitor and control workers in factories in Africa via a control panel mounted on a huge golden phallus.

In spite of the emotionally satisfying payoff of antics like those, it’s the honest proposal approach — assuming the identity of a big evildoer and announcing they’re doing something wonderful — that has proven to be the more effective way to embarrass a target. When the Yes Men impersonated Dow Chemical on the twentieth anniversary of the Bhopal catastrophe and announced on Dow’s behalf that it was finally taking responsibility for the disaster see CASE: Dow Chemical apologizes for Bhopal; or when U.S. Uncut activists announced that GE was paying its 2010 taxes after all see TACTIC: Hoax; or when activists impersonating French officials announced that Haiti’s debt — imposed when Haiti won independence from France, to compensate French slaveowners for their lost “property” — would at long last be forgiven; or when environmental activists impersonated Canada (in one case) or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (in another) and announced surprising and wonderful things… In all these cases, the consequences were immediate: voluminous news reports about the unlikely turn of events (and, in the Dow and GE cases, giant temporary drops in each company’s stock value). These in turn provided fodder for a wave of other articles about the whole hoax, providing a media platform for the reform programs of campaigners working on these issues.

Key Principle at work

The real action is your target’s reaction

Often the most revealing moment in a successful identity correction is the reaction of the target. When you identity-correct a major corporation, you force them to react. They can’t let the lie that tells the truth stand in the media. GE had to tell the press it was NOT returning its questionable tax refund to stand in solidarity with struggling Americans. Dow Chemical had to issue a statement indicating it had NOT apologized for the Bhopal disaster and would NOT be compensating the victims.


Potential Pitfalls
Getting caught by the real folks you are impersonating. Not really a pitfall, just a plot twist.
Andy Bichlbaum (AKA Jacques Servin) got his start as an activist when, as a computer programmer, he inserted a swarm of kissing boys in a shoot-’em-up video game just before it shipped to store shelves, and found himself fired, famous, and hugely amused. Now, Andy helps run the Yes Lab for Creative Activism as part of his job as professor of subversion at New York University. Bichlbaum once flew down the Nile in a two-seater airplane, bringing a live goat to a remote Sudanese village as a hostess gift for a homecoming party. (The party was fun and the goat was insanely delicious.)

 Posted by at 2:58 pm
Jul 122014

It was interesting to be aware of “Thoughts” as I was reading the article, and than again later.   Time permitting, I’ll note them in “Comments” below.  Feel free to add yours.    /Sandra


Low-lying south Florida, at the front line of climate change in the US, will be swallowed as sea levels rise. Astonishingly, the population is growing, house prices are rising and building goes on. The problem is the city is run by climate change deniers

Robin McKie, science editor, in Miami

The Observer,

Miami coastline

The Miami coastline: there are fears that even a 30cm rise in the sea level could be catastrophic. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty

A drive through the sticky Florida heat into Alton Road in Miami Beach can be an unexpectedly awkward business. Most of the boulevard, which runs north through the heart of the resort’s most opulent palm-fringed real estate, has been reduced to a single lane that is hemmed in by bollards, road-closed signs, diggers, trucks, workmen, stacks of giant concrete cylinders and mounds of grey, foul-smelling earth.

It is an unedifying experience but an illuminating one – for this once glamorous thoroughfare, a few blocks from Miami Beach’s art deco waterfront and its white beaches, has taken on an unexpected role. It now lies on the front line of America’s battle against climate change and the rise in sea levels that it has triggered.

“Climate change is no longer viewed as a future threat round here,” says atmosphere expert Professor Ben Kirtman, of the University of Miami. “It is something that we are having to deal with today.”

Every year, with the coming of high spring and autumn tides, the sea surges up the Florida coast and hits the west side of Miami Beach, which lies on a long, thin island that runs north and south across the water from the city of Miami. The problem is particularly severe in autumn when winds often reach hurricane levels. Tidal surges are turned into walls of seawater that batter Miami Beach’s west coast and sweep into the resort’s storm drains, reversing the flow of water that normally comes down from the streets above. Instead seawater floods up into the gutters of Alton Road, the first main thoroughfare on the western side of Miami Beach, and pours into the street. Then the water surges across the rest of the island.

The effect is calamitous. Shops and houses are inundated; city life is paralysed; cars are ruined by the corrosive seawater that immerses them. During one recent high spring tide, laundromat owner Eliseo Toussaint watched as slimy green saltwater bubbled up from the gutters. It rapidly filled the street and then blocked his front door. “This never used to happen,” Toussaint told reporters. “I’ve owned this place eight years and now it’s all the time.”

Today, shop owners keep plastic bags and rubber bands handy to wrap around their feet when they have to get to their cars through rising waters, while householders have found that ground-floor spaces in garages are no longer safe to keep their cars. Only those on higher floors can hope to protect their cars from surging sea waters that corrode and rot the innards of their vehicles.

Hence the construction work at Alton Road, where $400m is now being spent in an attempt to halt these devastating floods – by improving Miami Beach’s stricken system of drains and sewers. In total, around $1.5bn is to be invested in projects aimed at holding back the rising waters. Few scientists believe the works will have a long-term effect.

lowlying houses miami Low-lying houses in Miami Beach are especially vulnerable. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images


“There has been a rise of about 10 inches in sea levels since the 19th century – brought about by humanity’s heating of the planet through its industrial practices – and that is now bringing chaos to Miami Beach by regularly flooding places like Alton Road,” says Harold Wanless, a geology professor at the University of Miami. “And it is going to get worse. By the end of this century we could easily have a rise of six feet, possibly 10 feet. Nothing much will survive that. Most of the land here is less than 10 feet above sea level.”

What makes Miami exceptionally vulnerable to climate change is its unique geology. The city – and its satellite towns and resorts – is built on a dome of porous limestone which is soaking up the rising seawater, slowly filling up the city’s foundations and then bubbling up through drains and pipes. Sewage is being forced upwards and fresh water polluted. Miami’s low topography only adds to these problems. There is little land out here that rises more than six feet above sea level. Many condos and apartment blocks open straight on the edge of the sea. Of the total of 4.2 million US citizens who live at an elevation of four feet or less, 2.4 million of them live in south Florida.

At Florida International University, geologist Peter Harlem has created a series of maps that chart what will happen as the sea continues to rise. These show that by the time oceans have risen by four feet – a fairly conservative forecast – most of Miami Beach, Key Biscayne, Virginia Key and all the area’s other pieces of prime real estate, will be bathtubs. At six feet, Miami city’s waterfront and the Florida Keys will have disappeared. The world’s busiest cruise ship port, which handles four million passengers, will disappear beneath the waves. “This is the fact of life about the ocean: it is very, very powerful,” says Harlem.

Miami and its surroundings are facing a calamity worthy of the Old Testament. It is an astonishing story. Despite its vast wealth, the city might soon be consumed by the waves, for even if all emissions of carbon dioxide were halted tomorrow – a very unlikely event given their consistent rise over the decades – there is probably enough of the gas in the atmosphere to continue to warm our planet, heat and expand our seas, and melt polar ice. In short, there seems there is nothing that can stop the waters washing over Miami completely.

It a devastating scenario. But what really surprises visitors and observers is the city’s response, or to be more accurate, its almost total lack of reaction. The local population is steadily increasing; land prices continue to surge; and building is progressing at a generous pace. During my visit last month, signs of construction – new shopping malls, cranes towering over new condominiums and scaffolding enclosing freshly built apartment blocks – could be seen across the city, its backers apparently oblivious of scientists’ warnings that the foundations of their buildings may be awash very soon.

Activists Demonstrate Against Sen. Rubio's Miami Office Protesters gather near the office of Senator Marco Rubio to ask him to take action to address climate change. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images


Not that they are alone. Most of Florida’s senior politicians – in particular, Senator Marco Rubio, former governor Jeb Bush and current governor Rick Scott, all Republican climate-change deniers – have refused to act or respond to warnings of people like Wanless or Harlem or to give media interviews to explain their stance, though Rubio, a Republican party star and a possible 2016 presidential contender, has made his views clear in speeches. “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy,” he said recently. Miami is in denial in every sense, it would seem. Or as Wanless puts it: “People are simply sticking their heads in the sand. It is mind-boggling.”

Not surprisingly, Rubio’s insistence that his state is no danger from climate change has brought him into conflict with local people. Philip Stoddard, the mayor of South Miami, has a particularly succinct view of the man and his stance. “Rubio is an idiot,” says Stoddard. “He says he is not a scientist so he doesn’t have a view about climate change and sea-level rise and so won’t do anything about it. Yet Florida’s other senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, is holding field hearings where scientists can tell people what the data means. Unfortunately, not enough people follow his example. And all the time, the waters are rising.”

Philip Stoddard is particularly well-placed to judge what is happening to Miami. Tall, thin, with a dry sense of humour, he is a politician, having won two successive elections to be mayor of South Miami, and a scientist, a biology professor at Florida International University. The backyard of the home that he shares with his architect wife, Grey Reid, reflects his passion for the living world. While most other South Miami residences sport bright blue swimming pools and barbecues, Stoddard has created a small lake, fringed with palms and ferns, that would do justice to the swampy Everglades near his home. Bass, koi and mosquito fish swim here, while bright dragonflies and zebra lapwing butterflies flit overhead. It is a naturalists’ haven but Stoddard is under no illusions about the risks facing his home. Although several miles inland, the house is certainly not immune to the changes that threaten to engulf south Florida.

“The thing about Miami is that when it goes, it will all be gone,” says Stoddard. “I used to work at Cornell University and every morning, when I went to work, I climbed more elevation than exists in the entire state of Florida. Our living-room floor here in south Miami is at an elevation of 10 feet above sea level at present. There are significant parts of south Florida that are less than six feet above sea level and which are now under serious threat of inundation.”

Nor will south Florida have to wait that long for the devastation to come. Long before the seas have risen a further three or four feet, there will be irreversible breakdowns in society, he says. “Another foot of sea-level rise will be enough to bring salt water into our fresh water supplies and our sewage system. Those services will be lost when that happens,” says Stoddard.

“You won’t be able to flush away your sewage and taps will no longer provide homes with fresh water. Then you will find you will no longer be able to get flood insurance for your home. Land and property values will plummet and people will start to leave. Places like South Miami will no longer be able to raise enough taxes to run our neighbourhoods. Where will we find the money to fund police to protect us or fire services to tackle house fires? Will there even be enough water pressure for their fire hoses? It takes us into all sorts of post-apocalyptic scenarios. And that is only with a one-foot sea-level rise. It makes one thing clear though: mayhem is coming.”

And then there is the issue of Turkey Point nuclear plant, which lies 24 miles south of Miami. Its operators insist it can survive sea surges and hurricanes and point out that its reactor vessel has been built 20 feet above sea level. But critics who include Stoddard, Harlem and others argue that anciliary equipment – including emergency diesel generators that are crucial to keeping cooling waters circulating in the event of power failure – are not so well protected. In the event of sea rise and a major storm surge, a power supply disruption could cause a repeat of the Fukushima accident of 2011, they claim. In addition, inundation maps like those prepared by Harlem show that with a three-foot sea-level rise, Turkey Point will be cut off from the mainland and will become accessible only by boat or aircraft. And the higher the seas go, the deeper it will be submerged.

Turkey Point was built in the 1970s when sea level rises were not an issue, of course. But for scientists like Ben Kirtman, they are now a fact of life. The problem is that many planners and managers still do not take the threat into account when planning for the future, he argues. A classic example is provided by the state’s water management. South Florida, because it is so low-lying, is criss-crossed with canals that take away water when there is heavy rainfall and let it pour into the sea.

“But if you have sea level rises of much more than a foot in the near future, when you raise the canal gates to let the rain water out, you will find sea water rushing in instead,” Kirtman said. “The answer is to install massive pumps as they have done in New Orleans. Admittedly, these are expensive. They each cost millions of dollars. But we are going to need them and if we don’t act now we are going to get caught out. The trouble is that no one is thinking about climate change or sea-level rises at a senior management level.”

The problem stems from the top, Kirtman said, from the absolute insistence of influential climate change deniers that global warming is not happening. “When statesmen like Rubio say things like that, they make it very, very hard for anything to get done on a local level – for instance for Miami to raise the millions it needs to build new sewers and canals. If local people have been told by their leaders that global warming is not happening, they will simply assume you are wasting their money by building defences against it.

“But global warming is occurring. That is absolutely unequivocal. Since the 1950s, the climate system has warmed. That is an absolute fact. And we are now 95% sure that that warming is due to human activities. If I was 95% sure that my house was on fire, would I get out? Obviously I would. It is straightforward.”

This point is backed by Harold Wanless. “Every day we continue to pump uncontrolled amounts of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, we strengthen the monster that is going to consume us. We are heating up the atmosphere and then we are heating up the oceans so that they expand and rise. There doesn’t look as if anything is going to stop that. People are starting to plan in Miami but really they just don’t see where it is all going.”

Thus one of the great cities of the world faces obliteration in the coming decades. “It is over for south Florida. It is as simple as that. Nor is it on its own,” Wanless admits.

“The next two or three feet of sea-level rise that we get will do away with just about every barrier island we have across the planet. Then, when rises get to four-to-six feet, all the world’s great river deltas will disappear and with them the great stretches of agricultural land that surrounds them. People still have their heads in the sand about this but it is coming. Miami is just the start. It is worth watching just for that reason alone. It is a major US city and it is going to let itself drown.”

Other areas at risk


With eight power stations, 35 tube stations and all of Whitehall in the tidal Thames floodplain, the threat of floods has long loomed large, posing a risk to the economy, infrastructure and national heritage. With sea level rises and increased rainfall on the cards thanks to climate change, measures are being put in place to revamp and boost the ageing flood defences. Meanwhile, the south-east of England is sinking by around 1.5mm a year.


The Dutch are often looked to as the masters of flood defence engineering with their impressive array of dams, dikes and barriers. It’s a skill they have had to acquire as almost half the population lives less than 3ft above sea level and many livelihoods depend on the country’s strong flood defences. They have adopted a “live with water, rather than fight it” attitude in recent years, with innovations including “floating homes” being built in Amsterdam.

New Orleans

Bearing in mind that roughly half of New Orleans is below sea level, its future in terms of coastal flooding does not look too bright. Indeed, according to the World Bank it is the fourth-most vulnerable city to future sea level rise in economic costs, with predicted average annual losses of $1.8bn in 2050. It is predicted that rising waters and subsiding land could result in relative sea level rises of up to 4.6ft by 2100, one of the highest rates in the US.


The Maldives is generally thought of as an island paradise but is critically endangered by the rising ocean that both supports and surrounds it. Of its 1,192 islands, 80% are less than 3ft above sea level, with global warming putting the Maldives at risk of becoming the Atlantis of our time. So perhaps it is unsurprising that the Maldivian president is looking at the options of buying land should the country’s 200 densely inhabited islands need to be evacuated.There’s even a pot of money especially allocated for buying land overseas and moving the islands’s residents to safer ground.


Bangladesh is a nation in which three majestic Himalayan rivers converge, before meandering their way to the sea via the Ganges delta: beautiful on a map, but not ideal in terms of river flooding, or tidal flooding for that matter. The country is basically a massive floodplain, with more than 20% of its land awash with water every year and around 70% experiencing severe flooding in extreme cases. As one of the world’s least developed countries, it cannot afford the technology others use to mitigate the effects of flooding and has to turn to more imaginative means, such as creating houses built on stilts in coastal areas.

Abigail Hayward


 Posted by at 5:06 pm
Jul 122014

Rita writes:

Maybe there is something to be learned from the Yes Men, who have somehow gotten away with impersonating corporations (as far as I know).

It has something to do with the way they use these legal battles as ways to educate the public, by spinning the PR for all its worth. (or with doing what they call “corporate identity correction”- doing/saying the things that the corporations should be saying/doing).

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -


Roughly four years ago, activist group/prankster demigods the Yes Men held a press conference where they presented themselves as spokesmen for the US Chamber of Commerce and announced the Chamber had done an about-face on climate change. Everything was going well until an actual representative of the CofC crashed the Yes Men’s party, exposing them as impersonators. A good time was had by all, except the Chamber of Commerce (and some duped reporters), the former of which immediately ran off to lawyer up.

Things escalated quickly.

The Chamber’s first move was to fire off a DMCA takedown notice aimed at the Yes Men’s Chamber of Commerce-aping website (www.chamber-of-commerce.us [no longer live]). This first attempt went nowhere quickly, although it did draw the attention of the EFF. Realizing copyright infringement might not be the best card to play, the Chamber shifted strategies and sued the Yes Men for trademark infringement. All of this took place in about 72 hours.

Nearly four years later, the Chamber of Commerce has decided to drop its suit against the Yes Men. The legal system in this country can be many things, but “speedy” isn’t one of them.

The Chamber seemed pretty sure of itself four years ago. It was confident enough to rush into a lawsuit and a round of Streisanding to punish activists who briefly made them look ridiculous. But a push back by the EFF (and David Wright Tremaine LLP), citing use of trademark in criticism as protected speech, possibly caused the Chamber to reconsider seeing this one through.

Most entities who suddenly find a lawsuit against them dropped, especially one pursued by a much larger organization with deeper pockets, will take a few deep breaths and welcome the chance to go back to a more normal life, one free of pending legal action.

Not the Yes Men.

Soon after learning of the lawsuit’s dismissal by the Chamber, the group fired off a response detailing their disappointment in the Chamber’s unwillingness to see this thing through.

Washington DC, June 13, 2013 – The Yes Men today implored the U..S. Chamber of Commerce to reconsider their recent decision to withdraw the lawsuit they filed nearly four years ago, in a press conference on the steps of the lobbying giant itself.

“Just as their case against us was finally heating up again, the U.S. Chamber decided to drop it,” said former defendant Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men. “The U.S. Chamber knew this was our chance to challenge their silly claims and, since they claimed we had ‘damaged’ them, investigate the details of their finances through the discovery process. It’s the height of rudeness to deprive us of this great opportunity.”

“The U.S. Chamber’s lawsuit represented the only time in 17 years that anyone has been stupid enough to sue us,” said former defendant Mike Bonanno. “This was the chance of a lifetime, and we profoundly deplore the U.S. Chamber’s about-face.”

Perhaps it’s this sort of “can do” attitude that encouraged the Chamber’s withdrawal from the battlefield. It’s certainly not as though the organization suddenly learned to laugh at itself and adopt a more laissez faire approach to criticism-via-impersonation. More likely, it realized it was in for a tougher battle than it originally imagined and quite possibly didn’t want to expose more of its inner workings than was strictly necessary.

The Yes Men had such great plans for the Chamber, too.

“In just the last fifteen years, the hoaxsters at the U.S. Chamber have spent nearly a billion dollars lying to children and adults, and generally lobbying for corporations and against humans,” said Bichlbaum. “This lawsuit gave us a chance to help reveal the U.S. Chamber’s many hoaxes to the public.”

It’s a sad day at the Yes Men HQ, but hope still springs eternal. The group is planning a little legal action of its own.

The Yes Men are considering a lawsuit against the U.S. Chamber for depriving them of the opportunity to expose them. “Tell ‘em to put their damn helmets on,” said Bonanno, echoing Tom Donohue’s words upon launching the U.S. Chamber lawsuit in 2009.

I’m not sure where the Yes Men are heading with this, but it promises to be entertaining. Of course, they still need some legal help and this new angle has yet to find a lawyer that’s willing to play the part of the straight man in a courtroom farce.

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