Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Trident Attacks Capitalism in Court

The fish processing COMPANIES in the North Pacific have been trying to convince everyone for years that they have a God-given RIGHT to gain POSESSION of the fish resources. Nevermind that these companies go through boom and bust business cycles, where they eventually fall out of favor with God. Most of the time it's because they fish the stocks down to nothing and move on like a Bain corporate harvesting machine. 

Amid all this phony talk of sustainability of the fish resources in the North Pacific, I will repeat that the shrimp stocks are gone, the king crab in the Gulf of Alaska and the Pribilof Islands are gone, the Alaska king salmon stocks are hammered, the coral and sea whip beds in the GOA that shelter juvenile fish of all kinds are gone, the big pollock school behind Kodiak Island is gone, and countless genetically distinct salmon and Pacific cod races are down to a few fish. The processors have shown their true colors in regards their concern for anything but their year-end bottom line. They actually showed their colors consistently in the sixty years or so before Alaskans could stop them from using fixed fish traps that required no fishermen at all.

This fall the deal made behind doors between the Kodiak trawlers' lobbyists and who knows who is that the trawl companies will get harvesting rights to perpetuity. Look at it from their point of view. The heat is building to rectify their mass destruction of bottom habitat, juvenile halibut, crab, salmon, etc, all thrown overboard dead as bycatch. (God forbid anyone should do an economic analysis on the value of just one baby female halibut thrown overboard vs it's 140 lb adult average weight that maybe laid eggs a whole bunch of times.) Wa la, the North Pacific Council suddenly puts catch shares on the table to make this possible. This was never discussed in public prior and the few voices of opposition in that stacked Council process, aka, 'The Council Family," will routinely be muzzled. Been happening since Ted Stevens helped set up the racket.

 Another bit of background; as the Rockfish Pilot Program completed it's five year trial marriage between fishermen and processors, the Council finally rectified a wrong. It took back the mandatory linkage with about 12 active trawlers in the GOA. Now the trawlers can sell to the highest bidder. Wow, what a novel idea! But, capitalism can be bent by anyone who has the money to bend it. Yes, I've become a realist, but I haven't lost MY sense of fairness and willingness to do my civic duty.

 Now, some of the fancy big processors don't want to pay market price for the fish. So they get an in-house junk-yard dog to harass the courts into giving them back their gravy train. Trident's last salvo at the courts talked about how magically and excessively the processing capacity increased the day after the linkages were broken. At that point I lost interest and stopped reading their filing, but others forged ahead through the muck.

Here's what some of my readers had to say;

"Yeah, John.  The funny part is to ask exactly why Plesha is writing this affidavit.  A clear attempt “to reach the judge’s mind” of some kind.  If I were a half-way savvy judge, I’d say it reads a lot like a complaint that profits are not going to the buyer, and say “so what!”  There’s some real hash in the use of the word “rents”. 
I consider the thing to be a deceptive lie, a lie by omission, and a deflection (another lie type) as well as a decrying (that’s another part of lies).
Obviously, Plesha felt he HAD TO write it.  So, that’s good stuff.  Apparently the pressure is on.  Duh, do ya think so – after reading the government’s response on the Summary Judgment basis.  I don’t see, however, how this could fit into an Appeal later, as the Court would have to make a mistake.  What’s to mistake about ignoring greedy businesses and their “all the profits for me” attitude.  It’s already illogical, as Joe must be talking about non-cash basis variable costs coverage etc.  He ought to use the words “cash only breakeven point” if it applied.  But obviously, in the meanwhile, they sure seem ready to pay higher prices on rockfish – gee, like a fraction still of what the price should be."

 ""Felt he had to.. " is dead on. They see this as a loose thread that could unravel the whole fabric of processor quotas."
"The large processors and their lobbyists to the NPFMC are simply trying to create a script, then have everyone read from that script.  The Council staff is not inoculated against this propaganda, and retains no true independence and balance of what’s equitable for all.  That staff does not have to concern itself with the Alaska that you and I live in.  They keep their jobs by welcoming that echo chamber of catch shares that subsequently fund millions to keep their jobs rolling along, while real fishermen lose their jobs by the hundreds."
"That lawsuit from Trident was really a paean to fascism. Brought to mind the title of an otherwise regrettable late night movie, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Surf_Nazis.jpg> The film is post apocalyptic fantasy, a fitting metaphor for Tridents Gotterdammerung filing."

As a P.S. I have to say that the governing bodies in the Kodiak Borough and City that approve of all of this are exhibiting the same willful ignorance that climate change deniers exhibit. The amount of destruction just can't be imagined, so why think about it?  In a Machiavellian defense of Kodiak authorities, the German people did the same thing once.

Oh, and don't get me started on WHO the processors are hiring to man their Alaska plants, and where the rudely preserved fish is sent for value-added processing. As an indication, Sen. Begich, R - AK, is sponsoring a Bill to continue the Immigration program that allows foreign students to come here and work for practically nothing. Joe Plesha, Trident Seafoods attorney, would have kept any of his remaining integrity if he had just said, "Please, Your Honor, help us continue our exponential business expansion at all costs to society and the environment. My company made me say this."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Human rights abuses in the Bering Strait

 Is there a second crossing of the Bering Strait of a foreign culture, or is it a home grown one? What do you call a regional culture that would persecute someone for trying to start a proven economic development engine? An engine that the rest of Alaska's coastal communities rely on already and has for decades. Western Alaska is no small place, and it has LOTS of people, and they have goals and desires like you and me. Dreams that can be dashed by the tens of thousands by a Congress that turns a blind eye. Below is an exchange of letters I recently had with a Nome resident and highly successful economic development type. Who also just had a home invasion, by a policeman wielding a taser gun. 
Not an isolated incident for Nome. Out of control law and order in support of a feudal paradigm. Decent Alaskans can thank their oil-lobbyist governor for the unraveling of civil society in support of mega resource extractors, and they can only cross their fingers that the police won't invade their own homes. I do have faith that Alaskans' self-preservation instincts will kick in and they will elect leaders with the normal human desire to uplift others. Just like in this election cycle, a barely concealed 'Never give a sucker an even break' candidate vs an incumbent who inherited an economy wrecked by the same crowd and is accused of the mess by virtue of his being the top guy.

I could sure see what Obama was talking about last night; trying to get the crazy out of the schools and families by heavy support. People will either use pencils and flashlights, or they will use pitchforks and torches. I would rather my heirs not have to use the latter.
(To a friend of mine in Nome, AK)

"Stuff" is happening all over, as Joe Biden would say. The Romney health plan is mathematically impossible, according to a research institute, and of course the President. If it's too complicated for o'l Mitt, it's too complicated for voters. They will just go on his looks, just like folks did with Sarah. You've got people running things and voting all over who are like the woman who was advocating on a radio program that they should move the deer crossing signs from where deer are getting hit a lot. She said they should put the deer crossing signs at school crossings so the deer and drivers will be more safe.

It doesn't surprise me that NSEDC leadership is afraid of Tim. Don't know if I told you of the time at a NPFMC meeting in Portland where one ancient fish politico scooted away from my gaze like a hermit crab on steroids, crouched down and all. I turned around and looked right at him is all. Didn't say a word or even approach him. I see all kinds of precedents being set up there in Western Alaska that lowers the bar by leaps. If it can happen there it can happen anywhere. Maybe court-protected backstabbing like this will catch on in other legal jurisdictions as a way to keep dissenters in their own homes. Like in "prohibited from being 500 feet from any person with dark hair." They could say anything, like in Citizens United.

The solution for us is a big very efficient boat to escape in, because down the road somewhere the price or availability of fuel may be problematic for getting around on land or sea. The bigger the boat the less sustainable it is, especially fishing boats. Factory trawlers are the ultimate unsustainable investment. You could do a study on that. Even PEW now thinks that the catch share system back East is broken. They should admit it was broken at the start like a lot of us marine types warned. 
There is ample proof that the CDQ groups are intent on depriving the populace of Western Alaska an opportunity to provide for themselves. It has been a de facto depopulation tool for people of all stripes; Native leaders, resource extractors from around the world, and unsavory local characters. Greed is going to seed fast and let the record show that the Kotzebue court is another one that is in on it.

Communities all over coastal Alaska are losing population, and even being abandoned. Although the fear of falling out of favor with these predators has been enough to cow large numbers of people. Remember when Pittsburgh lost half it's population to lack of attention to the future of the steel industry? That was about the number of people that live in Alaska today.     This may be the piece that needs to be written by someone.

   Tim got back from Kotzebue. At the last CDQ board meeting as you know Tim got booted. Then a restraining order filed on him in Kotzebue. Hearing was today. Dan Harrelson testified under oath to his fear of Tim. The Court commended his bravery in being a man admitting fear. Fear of prison no doubt with psychosomatic symptoms. But the little squirt did appear terrified apparently. Academy Award #1!
    Then J. I. on the phone literally weeping. There is a persistent background rumor around the community she's been getting first and second opinions from some of the best neurosurgeons in the lower 48 for a brain aneurysm or ism's.

This once healthy person is skinny now, utterly ruthless, displaying little emotion, except when fear of destitution and public exposure intervene. A casual perusal of the literature points out brain aneurysms are often symptomatic of cocaine abuse. Great emotional grist for courtroom histrionics. Academy Award #2!

    The protective order was inevitably extended for 6 months by the Court.
    The attorney was aglow. Warmed by orchestrating the embers of defamation & degradation. Eerily, at total peace with herself. Yale is a great institution after all. It gave us George W. too. Best Supporting Actress!
     So NSEDC is free from the burden of consciousness for half a year. Free to let their reptilian minds swim freely in a sea of greed without distraction.
      The only freedom left is economic freedom; as long as you can afford it.