Thursday, August 21, 2014

August 21: a sore thumb, and a world gone mad....

It's on page C1 of Wednesday's paper "Rail report targets safety issues." This is the report of a federal commission to determine the causes of the train derailment that killed 47 people in Lac Megantic. It's a disgustingly inadequate report. dumping all the blame for the railway's laxness in enforcing rules, for the poor training it gave its employees, and the terrible inadequacy of its tanker cars. That much one can agree with, of course. But there is more, much more, that should have been there.

Then it blames the engineer, a man who had been driving that train by himself across Canada. He must have been dreadfully tired when he pulled into Lac Megantic. But getting tired is not a crime. The crime was committed by people higher up who decided to use one engineer because it was cheaper (and damn the risk), people who knew the risk of those oil cars but didn't care, and somebody who filed a false cargo manifesto suggesting the oil was of a type less volatile than it really was.

But they'll all dump on the engineer who greatest fault was probably that it was the only job he could find in a USA that has 36% of its population living on welfare.

Forty-seven people were killed because of the drive for profit, for every extra penny that could be saved. And after a year of study, we get a report that tells us nothing we haven't already heard.

Then I noticed a couple of odd things. First, the report was largely a report that appeared in The Canadian Press. So why assign a reporter to cover it? Why not just print the CP report?

Then there's the quotation that sticks out like a sore thumb. In column two, the story says,  "...Irving Oil Ltd. said it has co-operated with the Transportation Safety Board throughout its investigation. Well, goody, goody for Irving Oil Ltd for obeying the law in an investigation into why one of its shipments killed 47 people. (I mean - they must have cooperated - because, well, a spokeswoman said so.)

However, reporters and investigative committees are supposed to ask questions. Obviouly, neither reporters nor the commission bothered to do that.

Somebody signed that false manifesto about the cargo. It can only have been someone at Irving. Who was it? Could a false manifesto be a factor in such an accident? (Yes, it could - because a purpose of the manifesto is to warn firemen of the type of cargo that is coming their way.) And now, 47 people are dead.

Did Irving Co. Ltd. cooperate with the investigation enough to say who had signed that manifesto? If so, why doesn't the report mention it?

Another question for the reporter - is it cheaper to ship some kinds of oil than others? Is it cheaper to ship Alberta crude if you say it's something else?

And those old and dangerous oil cars - is it cheaper to ship with them?

Irving Oil, we are  told by the TandT, is run by brilliant minds that have been shipping vast quantities of oil for years. In fact, it has its own railway connections, so it knows plenty about railways.. Which of those brilliant minds decided to ship (under a false label) highly volatile crude oil? Which decided to choose a railway with a well known bad record for safety? Which decided to accept the use of old and dangerous oil cars? Which decided it was a great idea to have only one engineer for that long trip?

Was their extra profit to be produced by any of this?

And where the hell  has Transport Canada been for the years this has been going on?

Forty-seven people are dead.  I got a tougher review than this when I faked an absence from school note. The report seems designed to avoid the real questions and to place the  blame on those low on the totem pole. It also seems designed to paint Irving Co. Ltd. as the good guys.

This is a disgusting report to come from a government board, and disgusting coverage of it from a newspaper. We should be demanding to know the whole story of why 47 people died. What we're getting is a whitewash of Irving Co. Ltd.
a small point - the TandT seems lately to have adopted an awkward style of writing  sub heads (a  sentence in medium print just below the headline). C1 has an example, Shooting, As protests rage, U.S. president struggles to defuse tensions.) What that means is that the president is trying to defuse tensions by shooting at people. Putting a comma after shooting does not change that.

The front page (A section) tells you all you need to know about Moncton city planning. Council is encouraging a 1950s style urban sprawl development. Not only is this  expensive in supplying services, it also increase urban sprawl in province that already has the heaviest private car dependence in Canada.

But this ain't 1950. The future is going to be very different from the one we saw then. Great planning, council.
Norbert is still on his cut the budget rant. (He read a book.) There are two things he hasn't even thought of.
1. Where do you cut? The only area he talks of cutting is services to us peasants. He hasn't even mentioned that the big, budget loss is in services we give to the rich.
2. He doesn't mention the fact that if we elect either the Liberals or the Conservatives, the budget will be determined by the same man who have been setting our budgets for some years, Mr. Irving. As always, the wealthy will  bleed everybody else to make themselves richer. That's why the real issue in this election is not the budget. It's getting our province and our lives back from those who have created the mess we're in. (of course, that would also mean getting newspapers that tell the truth.). That's the only way we'll  get democracy in this province. And the only way we'll make change.

For a world in chaos, the most important thing Eric Lewis can think of writing about is a column on the favourite music store of his acne years. Brian Cormier has an inspiring story about buying coffee.

The only intelligent thing in this whole paper is Alec Bruce's column.

On Thursday's front page, it has happened. New Brunswick, the province that can't afford schools or hospitals, that does almost nothing for the homeless or the hungry, that is determined to cut its spending on frills like education and health, has 23.5 million to spend on Moncton's proposed "events" centre.

We live on a continent on which the economy of the US, our major trading partner, is sliding into a deep hole with 36% of its people on welfare - and millions worse off who can't get welfare. That is increasinly going to affect us. In addition, our own wealth is distributed so badly that most of us are steadily drained by the rich to make them even richer. We live in an extremely uncertain economic world.

But we're going to spend 100 million plus on an "events" centre. Who will benefit? Well, first crack of the bat, some big, contractors will benefit. Then the owner of the hockey team gets a free ride with a new rink far beyond any realistic need. Will the centre make any money for Moncton?

I doubt it. Once it's built, permanent jobs will be few, and mostly low-paid. And before Moncton can get a penny out of the place, there's a line-up of people to pay - big time bands don't come cheap, and there will probably not be a whole lot of money among the North American peasantry to buy tickets.

If the events centre were to be a sure money-maker, then the big money of this province would build it to keep the profit for itself. And this is what capitalism is supposed to be about - private individuals risking their own money. But that's not what's happening here. We're taking the risk. People like the owner of the hockey team are taking a free ride.
Most of section A is about the election and the party leaders. And much of it is mindless drivel with Gallant, I think, the class act of dripping pure drivel. His goal is "making things better". Wow! What an insight!

The Greens and the NDP are the only parties with credible platforms. But nobody mentions the two central problems that New Brunswick must address if it is to have any future at all. There is the question of restoring democracy so that the province is really ours. Then there is the question of ending this monstrous and growing gap in income between the very rich and the rest of us.

No party mentions it because it would be death to do so. God forbid any New Brunswicker should consider any new idea. New Brunswickers won't take a stand on an issue the very rich don't approve of. And as long as that's true, their problems will only get worse.
The world gone mad is the whole story of foreign news coverage. American news agencies and many politicians are working up a frenzy because an American reporter was beheaded by the Islamic state of Iraq (or whatever its latest name is.) Obama is opposed to sending in troops a)because he already has too many messes in foreign affairs to worry about and 2) another intervention against Moslems would simply make the Islamic State more popular. Opposed to him are the usual village idiots in Congress who think that killing more thousands of Iraqis (including large numbers of the innocent) is the only way to respond to the death of an American reporter.

The Islamic State forces have now intervened in a big way against the rebels (and the government) in Syria, again forcing the US into intervention in a civil war that it and Saudi Arabia started and financed.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is playing its own (and unclear) game.  It seems to be backing the  Islamic State in hopes of increasing Saudi power in the middle east, but also backing the rebels the Islamic state is killing in Syria.

And some day, we may get the big news on Saudi Arabia. The US has spent over a trillion dollars, and has squandered the lives of Americans and Canadians and Afghanis, supposedly to punish Afghanistan for 9/11 - which Afghanistan almost certainly had nothing to do with. However, check the old news stories for 9/11. There were no Afghanis among the suicide bombers. But there were a lot of Saudis. And Osama bin Laden was a Saudi.

There could be a story behind that. Their is no such thing as nations that are friends to each other.

Israel is engaged in extermination of the Palestinians. That's why no peace agreement has ever been possible. Israel wants to maintain its stranglehold on Palestinians  until those unfortunate people are either refugees or dead. In this respect, Israelis have done to themselves what Hitler did to them in Mein Kampf. They now think of themselves as a race. The difference? Hitler saw them as an inferior race. Israelis see themselves as a superior race, ubermen.  And yet I see in our letters to the editor much whining about poor Israel which is fighting for its survival. Poor Israel has the most powerful military in the region, almost all supplied free by the US.  It also has a GDP of 515 billion. Palestine has no significant armed forces, not even a rowboat or a kite; and it's GDP is 2 billion. Poor little Israel. The idea that Israel is battling for survival is absurd. Even worse, I  have to agree with Jewish friends who feel that Judaism has suffered disastrous changes in Israel.

And Ukraine is desperately trying to draw the US and the European Union into a confrontation with Russia. That's why it's stalling the humanitarian supplies from Russia, even though the Red Cross has approved them.There is big money in the US that would also like a war with Russia.

And we had the very ugly scenes in Ferguson, Missouri.

Most of these have a common origin. (The exception is the Russia/US tension which is purely a matter of power and money.) But the others are linked to an event in 1492, an event that led to the rapid deterioration of billions of people and nations all over the world.

But I'll write about that some day when I haven't rambled on so long.
The editorial is, as always, puerile and in the service of the master. Norbert's column falls short of puerile. It's about making a list of items in each party's programme, then thinking about it to decide who to vote for. Lord, that's childish. In the first place - to choose one candidate - do you seriously think that Gallant will do anything the Irvings don't want him to do?

Only fools vote for a party based on its promises. (Luckily for our politicians, lots of fools have the vote.) What you look for are the principles, call them moral principles if you like, of the party.Does it, like the Liberals and Conservatives, care only about pleasing big money? Or is it really in protecting the interests of the people of New Brunswick?

Anyway, grow up Norbert. We don't  have a democracy. Get serious. You cannot make choices of any sort in a province that the people do not control.

Rod Allen demonstrates once again in his opinion column that he is incapable of forming an opinion.

Both Alec Bruce and Jody Allaire are excellent. I would hope that ms. Allaire will next week give us more detail about her topic, the World Acadian Congress' Women's Summit Meeting. It sounds interesting, and I think may readers would look forward to getting more detail.

Sorry to be so long about today's blog.


  1. The Harperites point the finger at some poor train engineer for the deaths of 47 people when, in fact, it was their own regulatory incompetence which was the deciding factor in the disaster. It was the Harperites who granted permission to the railway companies to have a single crew member on large trains full of volatile oil. I can't wait until they grant permission to commercial passenger airlines to have a single crew member. After all, profits trump everything else in the neoliberal universe. Safety, what's that?

  2. Great post as usual Graeme. You cover so much ground.

    Apart from Moncton's continuing 1950's suburbia sprawl concept, Fredericton appears to have adopted a pack-em-and-stack-em strategy. Lots of condos downtown, and a whole community of them growing uptown. Quite incredible to see.

    I notice Fredericton is listed as an ICLEI town which is associated with possible Agenda 21 future initiatives which have their own inherent problems, such as freeing up large swaths of rural areas so large trans-national corporations can profit by controlling all future resources including GMO foodstuffs.

    The beheading of journalist James Foley appears to be fake. I can't say that with certainty. However, we know how dis-info strategies operate to fool people into believing in false paradigms, and there is no video available of the actual beheading, and his parents interviewed the day after do not exhibit believable emotions, similar to those who allegedly survived the spate of recent shooting hoaxes in the US.

    One must ask, who has the motive to fake this? Simply, additional programming for mass consumption?

    ISIS and their supposed Islamic Caliphate is being falsely ramped up to provide years worth of profiteering by the western axis-of-the-real-evil war machine.

    They also appear to be working to create what is known as predictive-programming to bring another possible ISIS related terror attack against US, or ally soil to further ramp up the emerging police state. Osama Bin Laden was used as a boogeyman, and it worked well, so why not do it again.

    There was a CNN camera crew who filmed someone holding an ISIS-IS-Here sign in Ferguson, but I didn't notice CNN bothering to ask about it, or mention it, which if it was legit, they should've had.

    Was the holder of the sign a paid plant in order to continue the psychological message bombardment of ISIS coming to the US, such as when it was reported Baghdadi allegedly said he was coming to New York?

    The other day, I was visited by a local political party running candidate and gave him a diplomatic earful about the state of elections, corporate influence and control, taxation, Washington's outright lies and propaganda, how CBC who we pay taxes towards simply parrots falsehoods etc. He asked why I didn't run?
    I realize it's a legitimate question.