Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jan. 14: a flurry of snow.....

NewsToday has two, big stories on oil train derailments - and put together, they add up to zero.

In the case of Plaster Rock, the Federal Transportation Safety Board says it will focus on the broken wheel.  Right. Fires are caused by broken wheels. Yeah. Everybody knows that.

Look, guys, if you want to see how important  (or unimportant) broken wheels are in this, there are lots of crashes in Canada and the US similar to the Plaster Rock one. So why not just get somebody to look at the records of those crashes to see how many involved broken wheels?

A spokesman for CNRail is quoted as saying about the DOT 111 tankers cars themselves, "Our CEO has called for a phase-out of these (cars), but it's an industry-wide issue, not just a CN issue."

Oh, well then, we won't waste any time worrying about that.

Another story says there's no quick-fix for the safety problems of DOT 111 cars - and the problem goes back for  decades.

Gee. Then if our safety board and rail companies and oil companies (and federal government had started working on the problem decades ago, we wouldn't have a problem now - and 47 people in Lac Megantic would still be alive. Obviously, they have  not lifted a finger to deal with it - or even to notice it - and they still don't intend to do any heavy lifting.

Where are all these super-smart executives that I read so much about, the ones so skilled they are worth millions of dollars a year? (The reality is they get that money because they are working for the oil and rail companies. They aren't working for us. And that includes the government agencies.)

A government spokesman says the government will soon introduce "new and tougher" standards. In fact, as the article says, those standards are not from the government. They were adopted two  years ago, voluntarily, by the rail industry. All that's going to happen now is that Mr. Harper is going to make a speech saying the rules are now official - which changes nothing whatever.

And, in any case, those news rules do not seem to  have prevented any accidents in the two years they have been in effect.

In other words, these two stories, together, say our government (yawn) intends to do nothing except in many years from now. Maybe. -except to announce its tough, new standards that aren't really new, and we'll get fliers in the mail about it with Robert Goguen's familiar smirk on the cover.

Meanwhile, the oil industry will be running its death trains across the country.

Generally, there's little news in any section of the paper. There is a lot of trivia, instead. That's because the whole purpose of the Irving press is to keep people in ignorance. The only important news in Section A is about the faculty strike at UNB, and the one looming at Mount Allison.

I supposed the Irving press will soon openly come down against the strikers. I mean, paying millions of dollars to execs and billionaires   (which is also our money) makes sense because - well - it makes sense.

But the problem is really worse than that - and some of it is the fault of the universities. They are absurdly expensive for students in a democratic society. They place far too great an emphasis on research to the neglect of teaching - and that's expensive as well as being a waste of time in a great many courses. And they are rapidly falling under the control of big money, thereby serving big money - and not us or their students.
I have no idea what Norbert's column is about. I think it's a rant about how he hates environmentalists. But it somehow becomes a "when I was kid". "Often," he says, "we used stairs because there wasn't an elevator or escalator in every building."

Wow, Norbert. You had stairs?

Everyone should read the op ed piece, "Health care can be fixed with new ideas, not new money." Essentially, it's an attack on those (like insurance companies) who want to "improve" care by privatizing it, bit by bit.

Expect to see more pressure to privatize. Corporations will not be happy until they get all our money. The is no limit to their greed, no matter what it does to the rest of us. The opinion column points out that there is no need for privatization - and huge improvements can be made simply with better organization.

Good column.

Seems I have a bit more space here - and there's something I've been meaning to talk about. Harper spent 30 million on his "War of 1812" year. (just like he also spent some 2 million advertising a government programme that actually doesn't exist. But don't worry. He made up for it, saving hundreds of thousands  by scrapping years of environmental research. Our Stephen doesn't waste money.)

At the end of the 1812 do, he cited how Canada and the US fought their war - but have been friends ever since.


From 1815 to 1903, almost all US presidents at least threatened Canada. After the American civil war, Irish veterans of the war acquired weapons and set up training camps near the Canadian border in a public preparation to invade Canada. They were thoughfully protected and supplied by the American government.

They then launched a series of attacks (passing American customs with no questions asked) on Canada called The Fenian Raids.

When the Canadian government spoke of sending troops to the new Canadian West, it was warned by the US government that it would be offended by such a move. The US had thousands of troops in the American west. But it would be offended if Canada did the same.

That's why when Canada sent an army. It wasn't called an army. It was called the Northwest Mounted Police. Mustn't offend our "friends".

President Theodore Roosvelt threatened to use US troops to settle the question of the border between Canada and Alaska. It worked. the British government, which had been negotiating on the issue, gave way to the US claim.

God bless the king, our British friend.

Presidents since then haven't spoken of invasion, but they have spoken of union of Canada and the US. And guess who would be the very junior partner in that.

They also desperately wanted to possess Newfoundland after World War Two. And they almost got it.

The US is and always has been the leader in challenging Canada's right to the Arctic. It routinely sends ships through the region in defiance of Canadian law.

Mr. Harper is full of it. As he well knows, there is NO SUCH THING as friends between nations. Americans and Canadians, as individuals, might be friends. But they don't run the country. That's done by - well, in North America, it's done by big business - and it is neither friendly nor sentimental.

It took the US three years to enter World War One, and almost three to enter World War Two. Why so long? The US, from the start, claimed to favour the British side for its values, and to be all for it. So how come it just watched?

Because it didn't give a damn what happened to Britain.

By 1942, the British had taken a terrible pounding, both military and civilian. The war was lost. Churchill knew it. He wrote it. He wrote that he had even thought of making a deal with Hitler by giving him part of the Empire.

The US didn't lift a finger, apart from selling supplies. In fact, it was not the US that declared war against Germany. It was Germany that declared war on the US, a month AFTER Pearl Harbour.

So why didn't the US do more to help Britain?

Well, for a start, there were important people in the business world (like Henry Ford) who thought Hitler had the right idea. But, more important, US business would have been happy to see Britain lose because then - ah, then the US would be able to scoop up all that empire, and make money out of it as Britain had.

Indeed, much of its time after the war was taken up with trying to get the old, European colonies -like Vietnam. During the war, Roosevelt warned the Free French not to send ships to liberate its colony Vietnam. When France did, its ships were bombed by American aircraft - quite deliberately.

Ever since the war it has been trying to pick up all those pieces of empire that Europe lost after 1945. That's why the US helped destroy democracy in Iran. And that's what the wars in Africa and the Middle East are all about to day.

This is not a criticism of Americans or even of American governments. All countries behave that way. There are no friendships, except of convenience.

Very few people seem to understand that. They fall for the political talk about friends and enemies. It's talk that manoeuvers us into ridiculous situations (like invading Afghanistan).

Oh, a small item that didn't make the Irving press. Russia has, apparently, pretty solid evidence that the terrorist attacks aimed at upsetting the Olympic Games were organized and financed by Saudi Arabia.
Russia has vowed retaliation.

Now, Saudi Arabia is "friends" with us, Israel, the US...and it's an enemy to Iran. Those countries could almost certainly be drawn into it. At least three of them have nuclear weapons.

And I'm not at all sure that China could afford to sit and watch.

But you can be sure of one thing. Nobody will be making any decision on the basis of friendship for anybody.

1 comment:

  1. The story that was missed:

    Gas rate cuts could be coming for homeowners!!!!!!!!!


    As a former resident of Ontario I always bought natural gas by the cubic meter, not any of this "gigajoule" crap, so I had to look it up:

    A gigajoule of natural gas is about 25.5 cubic metres.


    Now to get really stupid: let's see what gas costs in Ontario:


    It seems in Southern Ontario a cubic meter of gas (delivered) costs: 21.3 cents, if we multiply that by 25.5 we get a cost of $5.43 a gigajoule.

    Which is a far cry from $25.32 in NB.