Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Group of 8 now back to Group of 7

The world's rich country club, originally the US,France,Germany, Italy, Japan, and Canada, just black balled its newest member, Russia, over the Ukraine invasion. 
So it is back to being the G7.  There is  room for more members.  Brazil and India come to mind.  Brazil's GNP is actually larger than Russia's.  India's is right behind Russia, and ahead of Canada's.  Both countries are democracies, and believers in the things we care about, like freedom, capitalism, free markets, human rights, self determination, and not invading other countries.  And they are friendly to us.
   The other potential member, based on GNP size is of course China.  Unfortunately, the Chinese do not believe in the things we deem important, and in fact are actively hostile to them.  And they are not very friendly, to us, or to anyone else for that matter.  So,  we don't have to invite them in. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

So did they set the parking brake?

Just north of here, the Canadians suffered a dreadful train wreck.  Tank cars loaded with crude oil derailed in the center of town and burst into flames.  Five are known dead, 40 are missing, and it's a good bet the missing are actually dead, but the fire was so fierce nobody got close enough to check.  Center of town is burned out.
   The railroad (Canadian National? Canadian Pacific? the TV didn't bother to say) says that the train was parked, the crew was catching up on sleep in a motel.  It was claimed that "all safety devices were set". But somehow the train got loose and rolled into town.
There are a few questions unanswered.  Unasked by clueful newsies. 
Were the train brakes set, or just the engine brakes?  Every car in a train has air brakes as well as a separate set of brakes on the engine.  For ordinary operations (flat terrain, expected station stop) it's customary to use just the engine brakes.  Train brakes are reserved for tougher situations like decending mountain grades.  If the brakes on every car were set to park the train it is hard to understand how it could run away. If just the engine brakes were set, a run away is more likely.
   Brakes are fail safe.  Air pressure holds the brakes off.  Should the train line leak, or worse, separate, the air runs out and the brakes go on.  
   Were the diesel engines left running?  It's standard practice around here to leave them running, especially in winter, 'cause they might not start when cold.  A runaway is more likely if the diesels are running, with nobody on board.
   Oher interesting bit.  The train was loaded with North Dakota crude headed for an Irving refinery in New Brunswick.  Accident would not have happened if that North Dakota crude had been headed for a US gulf refinery thru the Keystone XL pipeline.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bad ideas never die, Parti Quebecois rises again

Founded in 1968, Parti Quebecois (PQ) has stood for Quebec's secession from Canada and setting itself up as an independent country. They held a referendum in 1980, which failed, and they tried a second time in 1995 which nearly won.  Parti Quebecois garnered 49.6% of the vote.  Just another fraction of a percent and they would have won, and the separation process would have been launched.
   After the 1995 referendum all outside observers (Americans) figured Canada was toast. They expected the PQ to go back, do some more organizing, hold another referendum, and win it.  Somehow, that never happened.  The third referendum was never held, and the PQ simmered down to being the provincial government of Quebec.  Probably the election of Pierre Trudeau to the premiership of Canada had something to do with it.  Quebecois figured a premier with a French name couldn't be all bad.  Anyhow the Quebec separation issue died down and little has been heard of it since the '90s.
  It's back.  Quebec held elections and PQ won.  Not quite enough to form a pure PQ provincial government, they will have to cut a deal the either the Liberal party or the Coalition Avenir Quebec to form a coalition government.  But, it's a big step up for PQ  from the last election.
  Just to start things off with a bang, a gunman showed up at the PQ victory party and shot two people, one fatally, and set fire to the building. We can expect more fireworks in the future.
   Speaking as an American, whose lights are lit by Quebec Hydro, and whose family came from Montreal, I'm not in favor of Quebec separatism.