Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 23:A slow day in the world..I mean s l o w....

On the op ed page, the one that is supposed to stimulate thought, deepen understanding, etc., Alan Cochrane tells us a a story about his doggy-woggy. As for news in the rest of the paper, well, it's pretty gripping if you're the sort of person who can't wait to read the story "NBers excited about the royal baby.".

Then there's the story about Ottawa at last mentioning help for Lac-Megantic. Strange, though. I can't find much about any serious investigation of how this happened. The train had a black box that's going to be checked. Okay. They're going to tighten the regulations. Okay. But there seems to be an avoidance of what looks like the central issure.

Fifty-two people are dead. They were killed in an accident that could have happened at any rail town in Canda. They were killed because only one engineer was on that train going all the way across the continent.

Yes, we can piddle around forever looking for what that one man did wrong. But that doesn't touch the central issue. Why was he alone?" If we don't find the answer to that, then we're still wandering in the dark. And there's no reason to be in the dark. This is easy to do, much easier that checking black boxes or getting opinions on brake systems.

Regulations used to require at least two engineers. Just a year ago, the rule was change to permit one, only one engineer. That means there is nobody on board to assist or replace the engineer in a crisis/ (He could become ill, sleepy, any number of things).  There is nobody on board the train overnight when all those tanker cars of oil are parked, usually very close to population centres.

The regulation for two engineers seems eminently sensible. So who changed it? That must be a matter of record. I mean, a clerk can't simply erase regulations at will. It must have been approved by somebody and, if by a committee, somebody must have formally proposed it. Who was that?

And did someone in the rail industry propose the change? Who? Why?

Could it possibly have had anything to do with increasing profits? Could it possibly have been spurred by the suddent increase in the use of rail to transport oil?

The government says it will tighten the regulations. And that's very nice. But they were tight before. Who loosened them - and why? And were other regulations loosened?

Some fifty people are dead. Babbling about changing the rules is nowhere close to an adequate investigation. We need to know all the factors that led to this accident.

The rules were changed a year ago. Somebody wanted them changed. Because somebody wanted them changed, 50 people are dead. This was not something that was done by one, tired engineer. It was done by somebody well placed in the federal government and, surely, someone who was responding to a request.

And h ow many trains like that have been running across this country with their deadly cargoes. How many towns and cities have been (and perhaps still are) in danger of becoming the horror that is Megantic.

Unless we get straight answers to these questions, we can never trust our government, our railways, or our oil industry.

But I have seen not the slightest indication that these questions will be even looked at.

There's really no news in the paper today. There's no mention that Iraq is virtually in a civil war, and has been for some time,  no mention that the overthrow of the elected Egyptian government was engineered by the US, that there is not the slightest possiblility that Obama will allow anything but a puppet democracy in Egypt or any other country,

There's no mention of the growing poverty and suffering in the US as it devotes all its resources to world domination in a desperate attempt to remain a super pwer.

There's no mention of the Guantanamoo prisoners on hunger strike who are, contrary to law, being force fed, no mention of the CIA prison in Poland that is used for tortures not allowed even at Guantanamo, no mention of Edward Snowden or of Obama's determination to kill him for revealing that Obama has been breaking international law and the American constitution. 
(Most of those prisoners, by the way, were long ago cleared for release because they were wrongfully imporisoned in the first place. . But Obama, for some reason, has never released them.)

There's no mention of the prisoners in California who are also on hunger strikes. And no mention that the government and private contractors make deals with major corporations to use prisoners as something close to slave labour. Much of the army's combat clothing, for example, is made in American prisons. And - some 36% of all electrical appliances made in the US are made by prisoners.

And, apparently, American prisons in general as playing a good deal with torture. For a mild example, any solitary confinement lasting more than 15 days is considered torture. Private Bradley Manning was held for three years, mostly in solitary, mostly sleeping on the cell floor with no clothes or blankets. There are people in US prisons serving up to 20 years in solitary. Gee. They must fit right in with society once they finish their terms.
Norbert has an interesting column. 
Louise Gilbert has a useful one on summer entertainment - and not just for seniors. It reminded me of days long ago when every twon had a park with a covered bandstand; and there were concerts by local brass bands - the Salvation Army, the police, the military. Great days - and evenings for this kid..

The editorial is harmless. Not much substance, but harmless.

Excellent column by Alec Bruce on solar power. But it ain't likely to become big in Canada or the US. The oil industry downplays the need to get red of our dependence on fossil fuels. They're making money out of fossil fuels. They fund think tanks to discredit alternative forms of energy. They're pushing for oil and shale gas no matter what the consequences. Harper and Obama are their boys. That's why Canada and the US sometimes talk a good game about climate change, but do little. Indeed, no-one has done more than Harper to put off any preparation for climate change, and to increase reliance on fossile fuels.

Trust your local oil company.  

For those people who write to me (personally - not on the blog), and who aren't getting any answers, my apologies. My computer is acting up, and often refusing - rudely, I think - to send out my e mail.              

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