By Pierre Chénier
July 6, 2020 marked the seventh anniversary of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, one of the worst train disasters in Canadian history.
On the evening of July 5, 2013, a freight train comprised of five locomotives and 72 tanker cars, unsuited for the type of crude oil they carried, was left unattended in Nantes, in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. At around 1:00 am the train started to roll down the slope towards the town of Lac-Mégantic. Shortly after, 63 of the tanker cars derailed in downtown Lac-Mégantic, spilling their contents and causing a series of fires and explosions of catastrophic proportions. Continue reading
Filed under Canada, History
(Part of a series) This Saturday, September 29, marks 15 years since Hurricane Juan ripped through Halifax in the middle of the night toppling trees, smashing boats and knocking out power for many days and even weeks in some neighbourhoods. Wind speeds of up to 178km an hour were recorded at McNabs Island in Halifax Harbour. Continue reading
Canada must provide humanitarian assistance without conditions to the people of the Philippines | TONY SEED
My thoughts have been with all my friends and the fraternal peoples of the Philippines and South Asia threatened from super typhoon Mangkhut. My aim in this reflection is to analyze the news coverage of both Florence and Mangkhut and to inform Canadians about the reality facing the Filipino people.
(September 15) – Mangkhut is the 15th and strongest storm this year to batter the Philippines.
Mangkhut (also known as Ompong) has brought ferocious winds of up to 130mph and a storm surge of up to 23ft. The Category 5 typhoon greatly surpasses the strength of Hurricane Florence now striking the US Atlantic coast.
The social effects of extreme weather for the homeless, the poor, the elderly and the colonized, in the cities and on the roads; the abnegation of social responsibility and the public interest by the media and governments shows the need for empowerment. “When tragedies do occur, the monopoly media focuses on the technical mechanics of the disaster, excluding who should be held accountable, how the concerns and campaigns of the community were dealt with or ignored, and the response of the public bodies” | TONY SEED
(December 30, updated January 5) – According to the CBC, the main “news” and social consequences of the record extreme cold weather seems to be the status of outdoor civic New Year’s parties, the condition of the ice on a short-term, multi-million dollar outdoor rink erected on Parliament Hill, polar bear dips, and an outdoor World Junior hockey game between Canada and the U.S. in Buffalo on Friday December 28th.
A fiery crash of a tractor trailer truck on the QEW (pictured above) that shut down the Niagara bound lanes near Bartlett Ave. in Grimsby was reported merely as a freak obstacle or an inconvenient “long delay” to the many Canadians heading to the game. While no one was hurt this time, the damage to the highway was extensive and will take time to repair.
One CBC anchor, Hanna Thibodeau, joked with meteorologist David Phillips as to whether Russia was to blame for the Arctic front.
In seeming contrast, CBC published on December 29 a long photo feature titled “Toronto has officially frozen over. See it here in all its icy glory” highlighting the beauty of a nature that is benign. The kicker called on readers to “Take in the stunning sights of the city during the deep freeze.” (The photos were submitted.)
As 2017 ends, the working people face a media onslaught about what is going on in Canada and around the world, of which the weather occupies one sphere. We think that a sober approach going into 2018 is of importance.
An awesome lake effect snow squall (snowsquall) drops heavy snow over Sudbury on February 27, 2014. Lake effect squalls from Georgian Bay are noted for their persistence and linear banding, producing blinding visibility on Highway 400.
The following reflection was written on February 28, 2014 but for some reasons was not published at the time. I am posting it now in the midst of the extreme cold weather front that is gripping Canada and the United States.
The view from Blantyre
By TONY SEED
WHEN extreme weather event strikes, the reporting of the media proceeds from the premise of the insurance companies: it is a supernatural “act of God,” a natural disaster divorced from the social conditions made by man. It has become a genre and given a name – disaster journalism. It was all so “unexpected.” Hurricane Katrina? Just blew in suddenly from the Gulf. That ice storm in Atlanta? The weather suddenly shifted upstate in the morning. That tsunami in the Indian Ocean? No-one at the U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii had the phone number of the Sri Lanka president and hence the island received no warning. Thousands of people, mainly poor fishers, along the eastern and southern coastline were engulfed by the deep blue sea, as if an act of Buddha. Due to the large number of victims, that far-off disaster did make the evening news. These were not “accidents”; natural disasters became crimes. Continue reading
The abnegation of social responsibility by the US government and media | TONY SEED
This morning a train went off the tracks while crossing a highway bridge in Washington State. Train cars can be seen teetering off of the tracks and curling onto the highway on one side and a forested area on the other. Washington Gov Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency, noting in his proclamation “significant structural damage to the overpass, railway and highway infrastructure” and saying the combined effects of the derailment and road closures amounted to a “public disaster”. In a separate statement he called the derailment a “serious and ongoing emergency,” saying his office was still gathering information from Amtrak. Seventy-seven people have reportedly been hospitalized while the number of fatalities is being described as “multiple.” Continue reading
As global temperatures rise, warmer oceans are expected to fuel stronger hurricanes, with disastrous consequences | SABRINA SHANKMAN*
For the first time since 2010 three hurricanes were active in the Atlantic at the same time, and a rare case of multiple Atlantic hurricanes threatening land at the same time | NASA/NOAA GOES Project
A third of the way into the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA [the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration of the U.S. Commerce Department] looked at the ocean and air temperatures and issued an ominous new forecast: the region would likely experience “an above normal hurricane season” that “could be extremely active,” with more named storms than previously expected — 14 to 19 this season — and two to five major hurricanes. Continue reading
America’s disaster diplomacy, geo-strategic interests and “soft power”
“First comes the missionary, then the soldier,” was an old maxim borne out by the bitter experience of a century of bloody colonial conquest in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
By BILL VAN AUKEN
The missionaries are still at it, particularly in lands where souls can be bought most cheaply, but they hardly play the role allotted to them in the 19th century. A more modern version of this same epigram—better suited to the ongoing militarist drive by US imperialism for global domination—might substitute for missionary, “the man from the Times.” Continue reading
By TONY SEED
THE 227 passengers and 12 crew members aboard are still missing. The search continues for the aircraft, which took off from Kuala Lumpur on March 8. It is now in its fifth week, and the only credible information that may give clues to the whereabouts of the missing jumbo aircraft come from satellite images and pings from the floor of the Indian Ocean.
The images publicly cited have all come from Chinese, French and Thai satellites. At the time of writing, not one single image revealed to the public has emanated from a U.S. satellite. Yet all the data analysis has been conducted by one Pentagon-linked company. Why is this? Continue reading