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Showing posts from November, 2009

Climategate melts the credibility of the Winnipeg Free Press

How should a newspaper play the biggest story of the year? Once upon a time that was a no-brainer. Page One was the only answer possible. Today is not that time. The no-brainers who work at the Winnipeg Free Press have decided that the biggest story of the year should be run on the second-last page of the third section of the Saturday paper. Reporting news, it seems, is not part of the job description of today's "professional journalists." "Stolen e-mails suggest scientists rigged climate data." blares the headline. "Revelation challenges accuracy of computer-modelling research" declares the sub-head. It seems a computer hacker has posted on the Internet hundreds of e-mails and internal "research" documents from England's Climate Research Unit (CRU). The story they tell is comparable in impact to the exposure of the Pentagon Papers in the Nixon years. "The e-mail exchanges, between a group of powerful, life-minded scientists based in

Bellringer forced to bail on investigating Hydro whistleblower complaint

Yer Out... Less than 48 hours after The Black Rod exposed Carol Bellringer's cozy ongoing relationship with the Manitoba Hydro board of directors, she was headed for the showers in shame. For months Auditor General Bellringer had insisted that the fact she had been a recent member of Hydro's board didn't mean she couldn't conduct an independent unbiased review of a whistleblower's complaint involving allegations of Hydro mismanagement. Everything changed Sunday when The Black Rod revealed that Bellringer has been sending a representative to every single Hydro board meeting to take notes and report back to her on what is said. This previously unreported unbroken connection between Bellringer and Hydro means that she has been getting one-sided reports into the whistleblower's complaint of mismanagement (at the time Bellringer was one of the managers) for months, if not years, before the whis

The easy-to-understand Risk Analysis that Manitoba Hydro doesn't want you to see---ours.

You don't need an advanced degree in Economics to understand why people are worried about Manitoba Hydro's finances. All you need is a bank book. Two years ago the Public Utilities Board looked at Hydro's multi-multi-billion dollar plans for expansion and it made them antsy. From what they could see, Hydro was taking risks worthy of high rollers at Monte Carlo. Maybe there was something they didn't know, so they asked Hydro to produce the risk analyses behind the expansion plans. "Sure, sucker," replied Hydro. So far they've managed to keep the PUB in the dark for another 14 months and counting, knowing that the government minister in charge of Hydro (and the current unelected Premier) Greg Selinger wasn't going to support the public watchdog over the NDP's milk cow. What Hydro CEO Bob Brennan didn't plan on was the news that one of the consultants he hired to look at the risks, and who he thought he had muzzled, would be so concerned about wha

Exposed: Manitoba Auditor Carol Bellringer's secret link to Manitoba Hydro's board

There are zero degrees of separation between the board of Manitoba Hydro and the allegedly independent office of the Manitoba Auditor General. Auditor General Carol Bellringer sends a representative to each and every Hydro board meeting to take notes and report back to her what is said. Hydro chairman Vic Schroeder dropped this bombshell at last week's legislative committee meeting discussing, among other things, the refusal by Hydro Minister Rosann Wowchuk to acknowledge Bellringer is in a conflict of interest if she conducts an audit into a whistleblower complaint of mismanagement by Hydro. Bellringer sat on the board of Hydro immediately prior to being appointed Auditor General---and during the time the whistleblower was working for Hydro--- and she admits herself there is at least the perception of a conflict of interest. But Schroeder's revelation undercuts Bellringer's claim that she can use safeguards to overcome any perceived bias in her work. The previously unrepo

Hydro's own drought calculations prove whistleblowers' tune on-key

It was July 26, 2007 when Manitoba Hydro dropped the bombshell on the Public Utilities Board. The drought of 2003-2004 had traumatized Hydro. It knocked the stuffing out of Hydro's finances-more damage in a single year than anyone ever imagined. The utility ramped up computer simulations to show the board what the cost would be of a multi-year drought like, say, the five that have happened since 1929. It wasn't a pretty picture. A five year drought would cost Manitoba Hydro $2.7 billion. A seven-year drought would cost $3.5 billion. The numbers may be gi-normous, but that's not what made the PUB blanche. It was the graphs. A five year drought (starting in 2008 for demonstration purposes) would increase the debt-to-equity position of Hydro to 95-5. That's like making Manitoba Hydro a penny stock. Ask the Aspers what that did for Canwest Global shares, if you can catch them between meetings with their bankruptcy lawyers. Oh, and a seven year drought would wipe out all

Explosive details of Manitoba Hydro mismanagement that are being ignored by

Here it is--- the Manitoba Hydro whistleblower's letter to the editor that the Winnipeg Free Press refuses to publish. Among the explosive details in the letter: * Hydro is using obsolete computers , computers more than 20 years out of date, to make the sensitive and timely decisions necessary to prevent blackouts. * The source codes for the complex calculations that Hydro depends on to keep the lights burning are known only to one or two programmers , a fact that would horrify our American customers. * Manitoba Hydro has hidden $7 billion in potential future losses from the Public Utilities Board. * Bi-Pole III is so crucial to to Hydro's future plans that even a slight delay in getting it built threatens a catastrophic shortage of power. Hydro is hiding information from the PUB that shows rates would skyrocket if we have to build new gas turbines to make up for the power deficit. * Hydro got the result it wanted from consultants hired to examine the whistleblower's compl

Manitoba Hydro watchdogs sleep as the Whistleblower Act degenerates into farce

Manitoba Hydro has launched a campaign of intimidation to undermine the official investigation of a whistleblower's complaint of gross mismanagement. Employees have been told that they will be fired for the slightest contact with the whistleblower no matter how personal and non-work related it may be. One Christmas card and there goes your pension. Phone and computer records have been searched to send a message--- the all-seeing eye of Big Brother is watching everything you do. And CEO Bob Brennan has sent letters to news media referring to the whistleblower as "a disgruntled consultant" in a further assault on her character and her credibility. So much for the innocent public face of Hydro with which Brennan proclaimed that he welcomed the investigation and would cooperate fully. The threats come as the Auditor General was informed that she will have to speak with current Hydro employees to confirm details of Hydro's operations now that Hydro has managed to stifle